Democrats and liberal media would have Americans believe that Russians are a serious cyber threat, considering their alleged efforts to hack the recent US election.
Yet the US Army is worried about an entirely different country’s hacking efforts. According to an August 2, 2017 US Army memo reported by Business Insider, Army personnel are ordered to stop using drones manufactured by a Chinese corporation due to “cyber vulnerabilities.”
Wikipedia states that DJI is a China-based technology corporation that focuses on the production of unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones. They are the world leaders in the production of civilian-drones, making up 70 percent of the global market.
According to the memo, the bulk of drones used by the US military are either created by–or use components created by–DJI. The memo called for a cease and desist of all DJI products, ordering “cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media and secure equipment for follow-on direction.”
It’s also unclear what the memo referred to when it stated “cyber vulnerabilities”. It could mean that the drones and its components might be susceptible to hacks that could see the drones taken over by a third party during military operations.
More likely it could refer to the efforts of Chinese authorities in gathering data from DJI drones as announced by the company in April, according to Time.
Chinese authorities approached DJI with an interest in obtaining data from its drones such as video recordings, GPS locations, and flight records. While the company made it clear they did not have a means of obtaining video footage taken by drones, they do track flights as required by many countries’ governmental authorities.
DJI has stated that it would comply if the data was requested. “Should DJI receive a valid legal request from a government agency we may provide user information to that agency, just as other companies do. That is the case in the U.S., China or anywhere in the world,” a DJI statement said.
China is a potent player in the cyber world. It frequently regulates and controls its own data while actively pursuing data from foreign parties. It routinely asks corporations, like Apple, to permit Chinese authorities to spy on users and those companies often comply with the requests.
This ban by the US military on Chinese based products isn’t a new issue. The Washington Free Beacon reports that in October 2016, the Pentagon issued a warning to its subordinate departments and agencies to avoid the use of Lenovo products.
It was claimed that “beaconing”, the subtle transmission of data and access to remote parties, was detected on a number of Lenovo products. The same products that were being used by the US military on information networks.
Even the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee warned the FBI that some of the information Hillary Clinton had on her private server might have been gathered via Lenovo computers used by some of her aides.
The memo cites a study by the Army Research Laboratory and the Navy that determined certain risks and vulnerabilities in DJI products resulting in the policy change. The Pentagon and DJI have not yet released statements about the new policy.
It’s concerning that sensitive data could’ve been obtained through military drones or that they were susceptible to being taken over by hackers. It also raises the question of whether civilian drones made by the company might also have “cyber vulnerabilities” and are being used right now by unsuspecting consumers.