DHS warns of data threat from Chinese-made drones

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Department of Homeland Security emblem is pictured at the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) located just outside Washington in Arlington, Virginia September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned U.S. firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones, according to a notice reviewed by Reuters on Monday.

The notice, titled “Chinese Manufactured Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” warned that U.S. officials have “strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access.”

A spokeswoman for DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency confirmed that it “recently released an industry alert providing organizations with information related to the inherit risks associated with using UAS technology manufactured in China and measures to reduce such risk.”

The notice, which did not name any companies, was reported earlier by CNN. It urged companies to “be aware of whether your UAS data is being stored by the vendor or other third parties. If it is being stored, find out how, where, and for how long.”

This is the latest concern raised by the U.S. government about the threats of Chinese-made devices. On Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and 68 affiliates to an export blacklist, citing the risk of to U.S. national security from the telecommunications network equipment maker.

China’s SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, the world’s largest maker of consumer drones, said in a statement on Monday that “the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses.”

The company added that it gives “customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted.” It said that for government and critical infrastructure customers, “we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the internet.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Richard Chang