Data security

Logs are record­ed every time your DJI drone flies. These files con­tain infor­ma­tion about impor­tant para­me­ters such as flight path, alti­tude, speed and head­ing. If you take pho­tos or videos, as is the case with dig­i­tal cam­eras, these images are saved to the air­craft’s built-in mem­o­ry, or to a remov­able SD card, and their pre­views are also stored on your mobile device’s mem­o­ry. This data is very impor­tant to you, and if you work in gov­ern­ment struc­tures or in a com­mer­cial enter­prise, their safe­ty and pri­va­cy will be of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance, for exam­ple, when it comes to inspect­ing strate­gic sites or film­ing a movie. Let’s fig­ure out in which cas­es there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty of data leak­age in order to take effec­tive mea­sures and min­i­mize risks.

DJI takes pri­va­cy seri­ous­ly — files and oth­er data are nev­er auto­mat­i­cal­ly trans­ferred to third par­ties or the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­er, they are stored in the mem­o­ry of the air­craft and the mobile device used for con­trol, and it is always up to you to decide with whom you can share infor­ma­tion . If you see the pos­si­bil­i­ty of data theft and unau­tho­rized use, refer to the addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty meth­ods described in this arti­cle.

Determine if your data needs additional protection

In prac­tice, very few drone oper­a­tors have to deal with clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion in the course of their work. Small com­mer­cial drones allow you to take pho­tos and videos from a bird’s eye view, but such actions are rarely asso­ci­at­ed with the need for addi­tion­al pro­tec­tion. As a rule, a pas­sen­ger of an air­plane and any oth­er cit­i­zen can get sim­i­lar images by view­ing satel­lite maps or broad­casts from pub­lic web­cams.

In all oth­er cas­es, for exam­ple, if you work with infor­ma­tion that rep­re­sents a state or com­mer­cial secret, these six steps will help to sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase pri­va­cy and secu­ri­ty.

6 additional data protection measures:

1. Disable internet access for all drone related equipment

airplane mode

The DJI drone is a rare exam­ple of a mod­ern high-tech device that does not require access to the World Wide Web for its full oper­a­tion, since all images and videos are trans­mit­ted over a sep­a­rate secure radio chan­nel. Thus, you can enable air­plane mode on the smart­phone or tablet used to con­trol the drone, or remove the SIM card and make sure that there is no inter­net con­nec­tion.

A sur­vey of DJI prod­uct users showed that about a third of them do not con­nect mobile devices to the net­work when using them for flights. This is due to the desire to min­i­mize radio inter­fer­ence, the use of cor­po­rate tar­iff plans with­out Inter­net access, in addi­tion, this mea­sure allows you not to be dis­tract­ed by calls and text mes­sages when per­form­ing impor­tant tasks.

2. Connect equipment to the network, but use Local Data Mode

Since 2017, DJI prod­ucts have a Local Data Mode fea­ture. It blocks the trans­mis­sion of data to the Inter­net from DJI appli­ca­tions used for flights. Thus, this is an ana­logue of air­plane mode, which applies only to the drone soft­ware. Recent­ly, FTI Con­sult­ing con­firmed that when using Local Data Mode, no data gen­er­at­ed by the appli­ca­tion is avail­able to a third par­ty, includ­ing DJI. The mode is avail­able to users of the DJI Fly and DJI Pilot appli­ca­tions and will be added in the near future when updat­ing oth­er soft­ware prod­ucts. In this case, you will be able to down­load maps from a reli­able ser­vice for com­plete sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness dur­ing the flight, but not exchange oth­er data.

local data mode

3. Use Pilot PE Software and Flight Hub Enterprise Edition

For busi­ness­es that need a flight data man­age­ment sys­tem and fleet coor­di­na­tion for drones, DJI offers a com­bi­na­tion of Pilot PE and Flight Hub Enter­prise Edi­tion prod­ucts. Flight Hub Enter­prise allows you to host soft­ware on a pri­vate cloud stor­age and thus guar­an­tees the con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of infor­ma­tion. The solu­tion allows you to con­trol drones and employ­ees, coor­di­nate their actions and secure­ly store data. FTI Con­sult­ing con­firms that Flight Hub Enter­prise, when used in con­junc­tion with the DJI Pilot PE app, pro­vides users with an alter­na­tive way to man­age the data they gen­er­ate as these pro­grams are installed on a local cloud serv­er. In the above con­fig­u­ra­tion, there is no evi­dence of requests for any data from out­side.

DJI Pilot and Flight Hub

4. Use third party software

Many devel­op­ers around the world are cre­at­ing their own soft­ware for DJI indus­tri­al drones. As an exam­ple, we can cite DroneDe­ploy, Kit­ty­Hawk and Pre­ci­sion Hawk from the USA. If you want to use the best indus­tri­al drones in the world, but pre­fer to use third-par­ty soft­ware prod­ucts, dozens of options are avail­able to you.

Some of these com­pa­nies have con­duct­ed their own secu­ri­ty audits, such as Kit­ty­Hawk being type 2 SOC2 audit­ed. This means that DJI indus­tri­al cus­tomers can take full advan­tage of con­nect­ed drones and cloud com­put­ing while rely­ing on devel­op­er secu­ri­ty guar­an­tees. The DJI SDK also encour­ages third-par­ty com­pa­nies to imple­ment the Local Data Mode fea­ture in their prod­ucts as an addi­tion­al way to secure infor­ma­tion for UAV oper­a­tors and oper­a­tors.

Third party software

5. Create your own software

The DJI Soft­ware Devel­op­ment Kit (SDK) is a pack­age for soft­ware devel­op­ers. It allows orga­ni­za­tions to cre­ate their own prod­ucts, for exam­ple, for man­ag­ing flight data, coor­di­nat­ing the actions of employ­ees, and direct­ly con­trol­ling air­craft. To date, the client base includes more than 20,000 devel­op­ers who have cre­at­ed more than 1,000 appli­ca­tions using the SDK. Large and well-known com­pa­nies such as Amer­i­can Air­lines, FedEx, Ford and Time Warn­er are mar­ket lead­ers in their fields. They work with the best pro­gram­mers to cre­ate cus­tomized prod­ucts for the spe­cif­ic appli­ca­tions of DJI drones. DJI cur­rent­ly offers five sep­a­rate SDKs for devel­op­ing mobile appli­ca­tions, user inter­faces, Win­dows soft­ware, pay­load con­trol sys­tems, and onboard com­put­ing sys­tems. The DJI SDK was cre­at­ed by a team of pro­gram­mers in Palo Alto (Cal­i­for­nia, USA) and main­tained by a team of expe­ri­enced engi­neers. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it the DJI Soft­ware Devel­op­er Web­site.


6. Use Government Edition software products

For gov­ern­ment agen­cies that require the high­est degree of infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty, DJI has devel­oped a line of Gov­ern­ment Edi­tion prod­ucts. They were aligned with the require­ments of the US Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or in 2019. The abil­i­ty to safe­ly use the soft­ware for mis­sions of fed­er­al agen­cies has been con­firmed by NASA and Ida­ho Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry on behalf of the US Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty.

One of the main fea­tures of the line is the per­ma­nent­ly acti­vat­ed Local Data Mode. This means that oper­a­tors and oth­er employ­ees of enter­pris­es will not be able to send the received data to the Inter­net, thus, infor­ma­tion leak­age due to mali­cious or erro­neous actions of per­son­nel is exclud­ed. The addi­tion­al lev­el of pro­tec­tion is not required by most com­mer­cial drone oper­a­tors, but would be use­ful for orga­ni­za­tions with state secrets clear­ance.

Choose what degree of information protection is relevant for your area of ​​application of the UAV

The choice of data col­lect­ed by your drone and the options for shar­ing it with oth­ers is always yours! The final deci­sion depends on where you are fly­ing, where the drone’s cam­era is point­ing, and what objects may be in the frame. All the mea­sures list­ed above are avail­able to each client, but in the vast major­i­ty of cas­es their imple­men­ta­tion is not required. First, exam­ine the data trans­fer capa­bil­i­ties of your air­craft and soft­ware, and con­sid­er whether you should sync flight log record­ing with DJI servers and post the cap­tured pho­tos on the SkyP­ix­el social plat­form. Assess the risks asso­ci­at­ed with per­form­ing your tasks and decide which of the above mea­sures will help min­i­mize them. Many com­pa­nies have a set of infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty rules when using con­sumer elec­tron­ic equip­ment. It makes sense to apply them to drones to stan­dard­ize with devices such as dig­i­tal cam­eras, secu­ri­ty cam­eras, wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and envi­ron­men­tal sen­sors. If their use does not require spe­cial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty mea­sures, your drones prob­a­bly will not need them either.

DJI is always in touch with customers on security issues

DJI cus­tomers are pro­vid­ed with a wide range of secu­ri­ty and infor­ma­tion pro­tec­tion options. The com­pa­ny’s spe­cial­ists appre­ci­ate any feed­back and sug­ges­tions that can improve the effi­cien­cy and safe­ty of equip­ment, as well as data pri­va­cy to main­tain a lead­ing posi­tion in the world of high tech­nol­o­gy. DJI invites cyber­se­cu­ri­ty experts for joint research and requests to report any pos­si­ble prob­lems, and also offers a reward sys­tem for part­ners.

You might be inter­est­ed:

DJI Zen­muse P1 and L1: new solu­tions for pho­togram­me­try and geo­desy
Mul­ti­spec­tral Aer­i­al Imag­ing for Agri­cul­ture: Fun­da­men­tals, Chal­lenges and Solu­tions
Dig­i­tal World with DJI Ter­ra — New Soft­ware
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By Yara