Three years ago, DJI already had a special offline mode for its professional drones implemented in the DJI Pilot App to avoid a ban on the use of DJI drones by the US Army for fear of data leaks.
Now DJI has announced this data protection mode, christened Local Mode, for its Cosumer drones as well - the popular DJI GO4 and Pilot Apps for controlling DJI drones are scheduled to get the appropriate capabilities in the coming months.
Typically, DJI's flight apps routinely use the Internet to keep information such as geofencing data, local map data, app versions, radio frequencies and other data up to date, or to synchronize flight logs via DJI servers or to automatically upload photos and videos to DJI's SkyPixel website.
In local data mode, DJI's apps no longer send or receive information over the Internet, neither to DJI nor to anyone else, it is a privacy mode for drones or, as DJI calls it, a "kill switch" for Internet connections. DJI's main goal is to accommodate commercial and government customers of its popular consumer drones who fear that their possibly sensitive (flight/video) data might be sent and stored over the net and might be visible to others.
DJI Mavic Air 2
To provide confidence in the reliability of the security of the data protection mode, it has been tested and validated by Cybersecurity FTI Consulting (FTI). FTI analyzed both DJI's hardware and software, and reviewed more than 20 million lines of source code - application source code for an audit that focused on understanding communication protocols and objectives. A summary of FTI's complete analysis is available at download.
In Local Mode, however, the drone or app does not receive any information about new or temporary no-fly zones, software updates, maps and other information. For better control and orientation during a flight in Local Mode, DJI also offers the possibility to load the map data of the American provider Mapbox in order to display a map of the surroundings in the app.
Up to now, DJI had already offered "Government Editions" of some drones, which use special software and firmware to enable a more or less hermetically sealed operation of these systems.