FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (2024)

A Warning from the FBI and CISA

In a recent warning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have raised alarms over the national security threats posed by Chinese-made drones.


The Unseen Drone Danger Above

Die public guidance issued by the FBI and CISA warns of the “significant risk” posed by Chinese drones to U.S. critical infrastructure. This Datensicherheit concern stems from the Rechtliches authority granted to the Chinese government, which allows them to access data held by Chinese companies. Consequently, drones become potential conduits for sensitive information to reach Beijing, revealing vulnerabilities in U.S. infrastructure.

The 2019 Industry Alert and Recent Developments

This warning isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2019, a CISA alert, initially for official use only, signaled similar concerns.

The latest announcement follows a bipartisan appeal led by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner to CISA, urging a reevaluation of the risks associated with Chinese-manufactured drones.

Market Dominance and Data Security Risks of DJI Drones

The dominance of Chinese company Shenzhen DJI Innovation Technology in the U.S. drone market is reportedly particularly alarming.

With almost 90% of the consumer market and over 70% of the industrial market in North America, the potential for data leakage is supposedly enormous.

A 2017 Department of Homeland Security assessment revealed how data from a DJI drone used by a California vineyard owner could assist Chinese companies in strategic land purchases.

It makes you wonder if Google Maps or Apple Maps couldn't have done the same…

FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (1)

The View from Experts

Brian Harrell, a former CISA official, underscores the importance of the new guidance.

According to him, the widespread use of Chinese drones by law enforcement and critical infrastructure operators is a clear and present danger.

He emphasizes that this isn't an exaggerated threat; data leaks to overseas entities are real, even though we have yet to see any evidence of such claims.

“This is not the boogeyman, as we've seen these drones leak data overseas, and it's good to see government agencies call out the threat,” said Harrell, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security who authored the 2019 alert, according to The Record. “It's clear that the Vereinigte Staaten government has deemed Chinese-made drones a threat to national security.”

Drone Miniaturization and Its Implications

Harrell points out the trend of miniaturization in drone technology, which China has capitalized on.

Smaller, cheaper, yet high-performance drones have become increasingly popular in various sectors, including infrastructure and public safety.

However, the convenience and efficiency they bring also open doors for espionage and data exfiltration, he argues.

It is important, to point out here that the miniaturization trend originates from the 250-gram weight limit adopted and set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the registration of drones.

Drones, such as the DJI Mini 4 Pro, that weigh less than 250-grams do not need to be registered with the FAA when flown recreationally.

This FAA registration exception created a market for lightweight drones, which indeed is an opportunity that DJI capitalized on at a scale unmatched yet any other drone maker.

FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (2)DJI Mini 4 Pro mini drone" data-image-description="

DJI Mini 4 Pro: A High-Flying Controversy Bound by the 120-Meter Ceiling?


DJI Mini 4 Pro: A High-Flying Controversy Bound by the 120-Meter Ceiling?

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The Risks Laid Bare

The FBI and CISA's new public guidance doesn't mince words about the risks posed by these unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, states that without proper safeguards, the widespread deployment of these drones is a national security concern, with risks of unauthorized access to systems and data.

Beyond Chinese-Made Drones

The guidance extends its caution to all drones, urging companies to adhere to “secure-by design principles” even for domestically manufactured drones.

Organizations are advised to stay vigilant with up-to-date patches, firmware, and a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for all Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Mitigating the Threat

The guidance provides detailed instructions for mitigating these risks. Key recommendations include:

  • Integrating drones into the organization's cybersecurity structure.
  • Creating separate networks for drones to isolate potential threats.
  • Employing a zero-TRUST framework.
  • Establishing robust vulnerability management programs.
  • Regularly analyzing logs for anomalies.
  • Ensuring strong encryption for data-at-rest and data-in-transit.
  • Periodically erasing collected data after transfer.
  • Using VPNs for secure drone operations.

A Call for Vigilance

The claimed threat posed by Chinese-made drones underscores the need for continuous vigilance and proactive measures in cybersecurity, warn the FBI and CISA. As technology evolves, so do the methods of exploitation and espionage.

The FBI and CISA's guidance is meant to remind us of the importance of securing not just our networks, but also the skies above us.

FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (3)DJI Air 3 will surely comply with the FAA Remote ID requirements."data-image-caption="

The yet-to-be-released DJI Air 3 will surely comply with the FAA Remote ID requirements.

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Die Meinung von DroneXL

Rethinking the Data Security Concerns Around DJI Drones: A Critical Analysis

In the realm of modern technology, the security of data transmitted and stored by devices is paramount.

Among these, Chinese-made DJI drones have been a subject of intense debate, primarily centered around the allegations of data leaks to the Chinese government.

However, a closer examination of these claims, the steps taken by DJI, and the broader technological landscape suggests that these fears might be more speculative than substantiated.

Scrutinizing the Allegations

For years, allegations have swirled around DJI drones, claiming they serve as conduits for sending sensitive data to China.

Prominent voices in this debate have included U.S. politicians and competitors like Skydio, who have a vested interest in amplifying these concerns.


This fear mongering narrative, though persistent, lacks a foundational element: credible evidence.

The U.S. media and public have yet to encounter any concrete proof of these alleged data leaks.

FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (4)

DJI's Proactive Measures

In response to these concerns, DJI has taken proactive steps to allay fears and enhance the security of its drones.

A significant development was DJI's collaboration with the Department of the Interior, resulting in the creation of a ‘Government Edition' of two of their drones.

Die DJI Government Edition drones were designed to be 100% safe and secure, addressing specific security requirements of the U.S. Government.

Furthermore, DJI separately introduced ‘local data mode' in its latest drone models, ensuring that data does not go online and thus cannot be transmitted externally.

The scrutiny of DJI drones has not been limited to hearsay. Numerous independent researchers and security consultants have investigated these Chinese-made drones, and their findings have been consistent: no data leaks have been detected.

This raises an important question: if data security is a legitimate and urgent concern, why has there been no tangible evidence of data transmission to the Chinese government?

The Broader Technological Context

The focus on DJI drones also seems disproportionate when viewed within the larger technological ecosystem.

Products like Chinese-made cars, smartphones, tablets, computers, scanners, smart speakers, security cameras, and various software and apps, many of which are also produced in China, do not attract the same level of scrutiny.

This discrepancy raises questions about the consistency of security concerns across different types of technology.

A Call for Evidence-Based Discourse

The narrative surrounding the data security of DJI drones has been dominated more by speculation than by evidence.

While the potential for data leaks in any technology should not be dismissed lightly, a balanced approach requires credible evidence to support such claims.

In the absence of such proof, it becomes imperative to revisit and reassess these concerns, ensuring that discourse in the realm of technology and national security is grounded in reality, not in conjecture.

Furthermore, no other drone company has had such an impact on saving American lives, and keeping American first responders, firemen, and policemen safe as the capable, available, durable, safe, affordable, easy-to-fly DJI drones.

Banning or restricting these Chinese-made DJI drones based on unsubstantiated data security fears and concerns will cost American lives and will put our first responders' lives at risk.

FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (5)

Let us know your thoughts

We are curious to hear your thoughts on DJI drones, data leaks, and national security. Do you think that these fears are overblown? Do you think that Chinese-made drones are indeed spying on us?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security (2024)


FBI And CISA Warn Chinese Drones Are Threat To U.S. Security? ›

Further, in January, both the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a joint advisory warning of the risks posed by Chinese-manufactured drones to both critical infrastructure and national security.

What does the FBI CISA warn of risks posed by Chinese made drones? ›

The agencies are warning owners and operators of critical infrastructure that Chinese-manufactured drones could surreptitiously collect data and images on critical infrastructure operations while providing a vector for cyber attacks. Cheap, Chinese-manufactured drones have proliferated in the U.S. market.

Are Chinese drones a threat? ›

Chinese-manufactured drones 'pose a significant risk to critical infrastructure and U.S. national security,' DHS and FBI warn. Law enforcement agencies said they could steal data.

Is DJI a national security threat? ›

In May 2018, the Department of Defense halted all procurement of commercial-off-the-shelf DJI drones. In December 2020, the Department of Commerce added DJI to its Entity List, which prohibits U.S.-based businesses from exporting technology to companies designated as a national security concern.

Did the US government ban DJI drones? ›

The following year, the Department of Treasury raised concerns that DJI drones were being used to surveil China's Uyghur Muslim minority. Most recently, in 2022, the Department of Defense added DJI to its own blacklist, further limiting the company's ability to do business with the U.S. government.

What is the negative impact of drones on security? ›

Safety risks emerge when drones operate in restricted airspace or near airports, posing a collision threat to manned aircraft. Drones can also be exploited for illegal activities, including smuggling and unauthorized surveillance.

What is the biggest concern with the use of drones? ›

The biggest concerns related to drone delivery are security and privacy risks, including unauthorized communication with the drone and restrictions on information disclosure to external entities.

Are DJI drones spying for China? ›

Government agencies have shown that DJI drones are providing data on “critical infrastructure” in the United States to the Chinese Communist Party, Ms.

Why are Chinese drones banned? ›

January 17, 2024

“The new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report makes clear that Communist Chinese drones present a legitimate national security risk to our critical infrastructure and must be banned from the U.S.,” the lawmakers stated.

Can drones harm you? ›

Here are 5 causes of drone injuries and what to do if you were hurt by a drone. Drones have the potential to run out of power or come to a stop in the sky, falling dozens or even hundreds of feet down. If a person or group of people happen to below the falling drone, critical injury can occur.

What is the #1 threat to national security? ›

Terrorism and threats against national security greatly impact feelings of safety, turning places of entertainment, education and spirituality into potential targets. Economic and public health. Foreign intelligence officers gather information on technology, military innovations and other sensitive materials.

Does DJI take your data? ›

This only applies to data DJI does have access to - as we have said earlier: DJI does not collect flight logs, photos, or videos by default. Operators who want to take extra precautions can easily choose to activate Local Data Mode (and even switch on their mobile's 'airplane mode') for added peace of mind.

Who owns DJI drones? ›

DJI, which stands for Da-Jiang Innovations (大疆创新; 'Great Frontier Innovations'), is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong, with manufacturing facilities throughout the world. It was founded in 2006 by Frank Wang and Wang Tao.

What will happen if DJI drones are banned? ›

Such a rule would very likely stifle innovation in the drone market, and it would almost certainly make it more expensive for hobby drone pilots and photographers to buy new gear.

Is it illegal to own a DJI drone? ›

The ban doesn't apply to DJI drones that people already own or that are currently on sale. This means there will be no immediate grounding of DJI drones, and you won't lose your investment in DJI technology—just that DJI won't be able to release new products in the U.S.

What state does not allow drones? ›

Nine states—California, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia—prohibited UAS flying over property, including correctional and other facilities for utilities, defense and railroads.

What are the potential risks of using drone technologies? ›

Here are eight drone-related risks:
  • Airspace Threats. Imagine the level of damage a swarm of drones could cause if they were sucked into a jet engine. ...
  • Vehicles for Weapons. ...
  • Low-Tech Corporate Espionage. ...
  • High-Tech Corporate Espionage. ...
  • Smuggling. ...
  • Collisions. ...
  • The Difficulty of Enforcing the Rules. ...
  • Drone-Based Hacking.

What is a drone threat? ›

Drone attacks are a complex and developing security threat to military operations, homeland security, and international stability. Attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can include any number of targets, including military installations, government buildings, power stations, airports, and civilian populations.

What is the fail safe system for drones? ›

Failsafe ensures drone control is never an issue. Using sophisticated algorithms, Failsafe's onboard software immediately harnesses the spinning quadcopter to regain control of the drone's position in space.

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