“Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for industry and government,” writes Brian Naylor in their recent NPR article entitled “We're Not Being Paranoid': U.S. Warns Of Spy Dangers Of Chinese-Made Drones.”
“Electric utilities use them to inspect transmission lines. Oil companies fly them over pipelines. The Interior Department even deployed them to track lava flows at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano,” Naylor explains.
“But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen,” the article continues.
According to Naylor’s piece, “The department sent out an alert on the subject on May 20, and a video on its website notes that drones, in general, pose multiple threats, including ‘their potential use for terrorism, mass casualty incidents, interference with air traffic, as well as corporate espionage and invasions of privacy."
"We're not being paranoid,” the video's narrator adds.
“Most drones bought in the U.S. are manufactured in China, with most of those drones made by one company, DJI Technology. Lanier Watkins, a cyber-research scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Information Security Institute, said his team discovered vulnerabilities in DJI's drones,” Naylor shares.
"We could pull information down and upload information on a flying drone. You could also hijack the drone," Watkins explains in the NPR piece.
Watkins notes in Naylor’s article, “The vulnerabilities meant that ‘someone who was interested in, you know, where a certain pipeline network was or maybe the vulnerabilities in a power utilities' wiring might be able to access that information."
According to Naylor, “DJI offered a bounty for researchers to uncover bugs in its drones, although Watkins said Johns Hopkins didn't accept any money.”