Chinese language UAS Cybersecurity Steerage – DRONELIFE


CISA Issues Guidance on Mitigating Risks Posed by Chinese UAS, AUVSI Advocates for a Secure Domestic Drone Industry

In a recent publication, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has reiterated concerns about the risks posed by Chinese-manufactured unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to critical infrastructure and U.S. national security. The guidance, jointly released with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), emphasizes the need for caution and potential mitigation when procuring and operating Chinese-manufactured UAS.

The CISA guidance highlights the expanded legal grounds in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for accessing and controlling data held by companies, raising concerns about data theft and network compromises. The 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy and the Annual Threat Assessment identify the PRC as a significant cyber threat to the United States, emphasizing the strategic importance the PRC places on data as a geopolitical resource.

The CISA publication outlines vulnerabilities associated with UAS, including potential data transfer and collection issues, concerns about patching and firmware updates controlled by Chinese entities, and the broader surface for data collection that could expose critical infrastructure operations to foreign adversaries.

The consequences of the PRC’s access to sensitive information through Chinese-manufactured UAS include the potential exposure of intellectual property, enhanced details of critical infrastructure operations, compromised cybersecurity and physical security controls, and the exposure of network access details for potential cyber-attacks.

To mitigate these risks, the guidance recommends organizations, both public and private sector, to adopt secure-by-design principles. It encourages the federal government to follow Executive Order 13981 and consult the Department of Defense’s Blue UAS Cleared List to identify compliant UAS. The document further provides recommendations for plan/design, procurement, maintenance, and operational practices to enhance cybersecurity posture.

In response to the CISA and FBI memo, the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) issued a statement emphasizing the challenges posed by China’s dominance in the global drone market. AUVSI’s Chief Advocacy Officer, Michael Robbins, called for a shift away from unsecure PRC drones and foreign supply chains, urging Congress to take action to end China’s monopolistic control of the U.S. drone market.

China’s dominance of the global drone market poses a multitude of challenges for the United States, and the CISA and FBI warning affirms the threat PRC drones present to our national security. As CISA and the FBI noted in their memo today, in the interest of national security, organizations collecting sensitive information, including critical infrastructure owners and operators, must shift away from unsecure PRC drones and reliance on foreign supply chains.

AUVSI’s Partnership for Drone Competitiveness challenges Congress to take resolute action to end China’s monopolistic control of the U.S. drone market and to support a strong domestic drone industry. Our coalition remains committed to working with policymakers at all levels of government to implement common sense policy solutions that safeguard U.S. data and foster a robust domestic drone industry.

The AUVSI statement underscores the commitment to working with policymakers to implement policy solutions that safeguard U.S. data and support the development of a robust domestic drone industry. The memo from CISA and the FBI, coupled with AUVSI’s response, highlights the ongoing concerns surrounding Chinese-manufactured UAS and the efforts to address the associated risks to national security and critical infrastructure.

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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