DJI’s drones get an offline privacy mode following army concerns over cyber vulnerabilities

Next Story

Facebook brings data plan-saving Messenger Lite to U.S. Androids

In mid-August, DJI announced plans to launch a Local Data Mode for its app, following a recently published army memo highlighting concerns over cyber vulnerabilities with the company’s drones. The feature officially launches today for the company’s own CrystalSky monitoring tablets, along with a select number of Android devices. iOS could be arriving eventually as well, depending on demand.

When enabled, the app stops sending and receiving web data. Doing so means the user’s location, maps and geofencing information won’t be displayed. Information like speed, distance and altitude, meanwhile, will be stored on the drone itself, while photos and videos will be kept on the local SD card. There are some other byproducts of cutting off access to the internet — firmware updates won’t be available, for one thing.

“When using Local Data Mode,” DJI writes in the update, “drone operators are reminded that they are solely responsible for the safety of their flight operation and that they understand that features that may enhance and support the safety of their operations, but that rely on internet connectivity, are no longer available.”

When it announced back in August, DJI was quick to note that it had been working on the update for several months ahead of the release of the army’s memo. DJI Pilot is the company’s professional app, and the update is targeted at more than just military uses (no word yet on whether this directly addressed the aforementioned vague “cyber vulnerabilities”), with potential applications for any companies collecting sensitive data on the device.