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DJI Drone Shield A Threat To Australian Airports, Claims Can Be Used For Spying

Days after global Drone Company DJI admitted that senior staff have been stealing tens of millions from the private Company, the Chinese Company who is rolling out an anti-drone defence for Australian airports has been described as a national security threat.

See separate theft story here.

Aviation experts claim that the defence systems being used by the Chinese can easily be used by them to spy on Australian airports such as Sydney.

Next week the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) will start monitoring all drones flying near airports to protect them from a Gatwick-style security fiasco which occurred in the UK last month using Chinese technology.

DJI is the most popular drone sold at mass CE and specialist retailers in Australia.

The UK owned Daily Mail Australia claims that the technology used at Australian airports will be supplied by a Chinese company accused of leaking sensitive data to Beijing.

DJI has denied any collusion with the Chinese Government or the existence of security vulnerabilities in its technology.

Its AeroScope system can only detect drones made by DJI, which is also the world’s biggest drone maker, so Israeli firm Convexum will be used to track other brands.

Both firms share Australian distributor Counter Drone Solutions, which won the initial six-month CASA contract through a tender.

CASA’s program is designed to protect airlines from potentially deadly collisions with drones.

All airports have a 5.5km exclusion zone and anyone who flies a drone inside them can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to five years if they put lives at risk.

The program was initiated after London’s Gatwick Airport was shut down for two days last month after a drone was deliberately flown over runways.

At this stage CASA only plans to monitor drone traffic and track down rogue pilots so they can be issued with infringement notices.

Spokesman Peter Gibson said it would not include ‘drone shield’ technology that can hack into drones and disable them to protect airports.

He told Daily Mail Australia CASA would only provide ‘passive surveillance’ and it would be up to airports themselves to implement protection systems.

DJI is shunned by the U.S. military and government over security fears and Australian industry sources believe using it in airports could create a risk of Chinese spying.

‘U.S. airports wouldn’t touch [DJI technology] with a barge pole and neither should Australia,’ an industry insider told Daily Mail Australia.

Experts said AeroScope works by tapping into radio frequency signals and extracting data sent between drones and their pilots.

‘It is odd that CASA would deploy solutions by two foreign companies with links to foreign intelligence services in its airspace,’ an industry insider said.

When asked about DJI’s spying allegations, Mr Gibson said: ‘CASA has taken appropriate security steps in accordance with Commonwealth requirements’.

DJI has a long history of spying accusations and fears that it could use its customers’ drones to collect intelligence.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2017 released a memo claiming DJI was part of an organised spying effort for Chinese intelligence.

The agency said it ‘assesses with moderate confidence’ that DJI was ‘providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government’.

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