Leaked government memo claims DJI is spying on the US for China
Drone maker DJI's security troubles continue to grow, as a newly leaked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo claims the company may be spying on the US on behalf of the Chinese government. Per the memo, DJI drones and mobile apps are possibly being used to gather data on critical US infrastructure, law enforcement, and more.
The ICE memo was issued on August 9, 2017, and is unclassified. In it, the memo claims that DJI is "likely" providing the aforementioned data to the Chinese government, an assertion that is "based on information derived from open source reporting and a reliable source within the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry with first and secondhand access."
The claims aren't a certainty, according to ICE, which says in the memo that Special Agent in Charge Intelligence Program (SIP) Los Angeles has "moderate confidence" that DJI is providing law enforcement and critical infrastructure data to China. However, the memo claims that SIP LA has "high confidence" that DJI is "selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive U.S. data."
SIP Los Angeles makes some alarming claims about the DJI GO and SkyPixel mobile apps, saying in part that they grab facial recognition data even if the feature is disabled. The collected data, which is said to include sensitive personal info like full names, images and videos, phone numbers, and computer credentials, are automatically uploaded to unspecified "cloud storage systems" in Hong Kong and Taiwan "to which the Chinese government most likely has access."
The memo goes on to state that SIP LA has "high confidence [that] a foreign government with access to this information could easily coordinate physical or cyber attacks against critical sites."
Sources of information (SOI) have informed officials, according to the document, that:
The Chinese government is using DJI UAS as an inexpensive, hard-to-trace method to collect on U.S. critical assets ... directorates most likely receiving the data from DJI's cloud are the offices responsible for defense, critical infrastructure, traffic controlling, and cyber offense...
This isn't the first time DJI has been the source of security concerns. Earlier this year, the U.S. Army issued a memo, as pointed out in this most recently leaked document, that ordered its units to immediately cease use of DJI products over security concerns. Additionally, security researcher Kevin Finisterre recently claimed that DJI threatened him after he submitted a bug bounty report highlighting serious security issues he had discovered with the company's system.
For its part, DJI has released an official statement on the leaked ICE memo, saying:
The bulletin is based on clearly false and misleading claims from an unidentified source. Through the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, DJI provided ICE a detailed rebuttal of the report, explaining why the data behind its conclusions is deeply flawed.
As DJI explained to ICE, the allegations in the bulletin are so profoundly wrong as a factual matter that ICE should consider withdrawing it, or at least correcting its unsupportable assertions. DJI further urged ICE to consider whether the source of the allegations may have had a competitive or improper motive to interfere with DJI's legitimate business by making false allegations about DJI.
The company states that some of the claims in the ICE memo can be "easily disproven," including with "a simple internet search," while other claims are said to be "unsupported by facts or technical analysis."
That said, the ICE memo claims, "Much of the information collected [by DJI products] includes proprietary and sensitive critical infrastructure data, such as detailed imagery of power control panels, security measures for critical infrastructure sites, or materials used in bridge construction."
DJI is allegedly "focused on targeting" the utility companies that provide drinking water in four big locations: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New Jersey. The memo claims the drone maker is also focused on railway companies located in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Omaha, the Milan Army Ammunition Plant in Fort Riley, Kansas, and it is allegedly also providing the Chinese government with data to help it determine which assets to acquire in the U.S.
The complete ICE memo can be found here.
Tiffen Filters has announced a new collection of drone filter kits for the DJI Mavic Air, Mavic Zoom 2, Mavic Pro 2, and Inspire 2.
Lexar has announced a new flash drive that features a fingerprint reader to protect its content from unauthorised access.
Following the release of footage showing what kind of damage drones can do to airplanes, DJI has responded with a critical open letter.
The Pixii camera uses the display of your mobile device for image review.
Celebrity photographer Manfred Baumann has been using a pre-release version of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019, and in this article he shares his impressions of using the software.
As a stills camera the Fujifilm X-T3 is a pleasant update to one of our favorite APS-C cameras, significantly improving the autofocus. If you're interested in stills and video, though, it's knockout.
Photographer Peter Guttman was given some of Kodak's revitalized Ektachrome 100 film and took over Kodak Professional's Instagram page to share the images he captured.
We sat down recently with top Canon engineers to talk about the EOS R, and the delicate balancing act of experimenting with a new platform and the risk of alienating existing users.
Sony has updated its image sensor spec page and as expected, a few of the chips they make bear an uncanny resemblance to sensors found inside Fujifilm and Panasonic cameras.
This week Chris and Jordan are joined by renowned macro photographer Don Komarechka, who demonstrates a few simple techniques that can improve your macro photos in a big way.
The group that provides Canon users with programs to expand the feature set of their cameras has begun cracking the new EOS R mirrorless firmware.
The Pixel 3 represents another step forward in computational photography for Google's smartphone. We're just getting started with our testing – for now take a look at some sample images, including 'computational Raw' files available for download.
Lens Rentals Founder, Roger Cicala, has given the Canon EOS R one of his signature camera teardowns.
Nikon says firmware version 1.03 "Fixes an issue that in rare circumstances would delay the shutter release or the start of the autofocus operation."
The Kickstarter campaign for Yashica’s digiFilm Y35 camera has produced a wave of complaints about delays in shipping product as well as cameras that don’t work.
Pixelmator today released Pixelmator Pro 1.2 Quicksilver, a major update to its image editing app for Mac.
Although Raw performance of the EOS R is very similar to the 5D Mark IV, Canon's done some tweaking on the JPEGs - take a look at our studio scene to see for yourself.
If you've backed one of the company's crowdfunding projects, the reward will not arrive and you won't get your money back either as Meyer Optik Görlitz's parent company, Net SE, is completely dead.
The importance of APS-C, a future a7S model in development and why customers want two card slots – read our full interview with Sony's Kenji Tanaka.
Google's Super Res Zoom technology uses pixel-shifting methods to achieve zoom results comparable to some optical solutions. Google has published an in-depth explanation on its AI blog.
CyberLink has release the latest version of its photo editing and design program PhotoDirector.
Toy manufacturer Tomy has launched a no-battery-required smartphone printer that is remarkably like the one Holga has been promoting via a Kickstarter campaign but which is already available for $40/£39.
A handful of Sony users have noticed a particular model of SanDisk SD cards is showing errors when used with Sony a7 III camera.
The Fujifilm X-T3's 4K video more than lives up to its impressive specification, making it one of the most capable video cameras we've ever tested.
VSCO has made it easier to find the right presets for your photos with a few interface changes to its smartphone app.
TinyMOS is back with NANO1, an all-new astrophotography camera that's one-third the size of the TINY1 it announced three years ago.
Huawei's latest flagship device comes with the widest range of focal lengths of all current smartphones.
After shaking up the Lightroom ecosystem with Lightroom CC last year, Adobe has released version 2.0 of the cloud-centric photo organizer and editor. We look at new features like People View, how far Lightroom CC has come in its first year, and where Lightroom is headed.
Today, at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe previewed Photoshop CC on iPad, a full-featured, desktop-class version of Photoshop for iOS.