Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
September 5, 2017

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Drone security

DJI offers ‘bug bounty’ to techies who can find software flaws in its drones

All-conquering drone manufacturer DJI is offering cash rewards to techies who can find security flaws in its software.

The bug bounty program promises cash rewards of between $100 and $30,000 for anyone who can uncover privacy threats, safety issues, app crashes and any other vulnerabilities.

The move comes about a month after reports emerged that the US Army was abandoning use of drone tech developed by DJI – a Chinese-owned firm – over cybersecurity fears.

A US Army memo obtained by UAS News said that “due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products, it is directed that the US Army halt use of all DJI products.”

Many other tech companies have previously offered bounties for the same reason, with Apple offering up to $200,000 for hackers and researchers who identify security flaws in its products last year.

Partnerships

With an eye on winning back the favour of the US Army and securing government contracts, DJI is also forging partnerships with security researchers and has introduced a new internal approval process designed to uncover security problems before software is released to market.

Founded in 2006, DJI has gained near total dominance of the drone market at all price points (apart from sub $500), partly thanks to aggressive price cutting. When DJI dropped its prices by up to 70% in less than a year it drove its nearest rival, 3D Robotics, out of business.

The company, which is best known for its Phantom drones and the more recent Mavic Pro, also has “has 1,500 people working on research and development,” according to Colin Snow, founder of Skylogic Research, a drone research firm. “Nobody else has that.”

DJI also benefited hugely from its partnerships with Sony for camera components and Apple, to get its products on the shelves of Apple stores.

Global drone sales by units grew by 60% last year to 2.2 million, while revenues rose 36% to $4.5 billion, according to research firm Gartner.

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