Department of Interior Grounds Its Drones Amid Cybersecurity Concerns

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The U.S. Department of the Interior has confirmed it has grounded its fleet of non-emergency drones amid concerns over cybersecurity. In a brief statement, the department said the move will help to ensure that “the technology used for these operations is such that it will not compromise our national security interests.” Interior spokesperson Carol Danko said the department affirms with a formal order the “temporary cessation of non-emergency drones while we ensure that cybersecurity, technology and domestic production concerns are adequately addressed,” months after the department said it was grounding its approximately 800 drones. But the drones will still be used for emergency purposes, such as search and rescue and assisting with natural disasters, the statement said.

The order did not specifically mention threats from China, but said that information collected during drone missions “has the potential to be valuable to foreign entities, organizations, and governments.” Danko told TechCrunch that the department currently has 121 drones made by DJI and 665 drones that are Chinese-built but not made by DJI. She added that 24 drones are made in the U.S. but have Chinese components. “The review is to help us identify and assess any potential threats or risks,” said Danko.