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Indian Government asks Armed Forces personnel to uninstall 42 apps for fear of ‘Chinese Spyware’

WeChat, TrueCaller, UC Browser, Mi Community, Mi Store, BeautyPlus, are among these list of apps.

  • Updated: December 6, 2017 12:45 PM IST
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There is a list of apps that the Indian government thinks you need to uninstall. On both Android and iOS, the government has found a total of 42 apps, that may be affected by “Chinese spyware”. WeChat, TrueCaller, UC Browser, Mi Community, Mi Store, Mi Video call, BeautyPlus, are among apps in the list.

Reportedly, these apps are sending user’s data back to servers in China, and have the potential to carry out cyber attacks against Indians. Apparently, the agencies have even advised the Indian armed forces to ensure these apps aren’t used by the officers and soldiers, and have been instructed to clean up both their official and personal mobile phones.

“According to reliable inputs, a number of Android/IOS apps developed by Chinese firms or having Chinese links are reportedly either spyware or other malicious ware. Use of these apps by our personnel can be detrimental to…national security,” The Print reported this to be an official order sent to troops on November 24.

The full list of app includes: Weibo, WeChat, SHAREit, Truecaller, UC News, UC Browser, BeautyPlus, NewsDog, VivaVideo- QU Video Inc, Parallel Space, APUS Browser, Perfect Corp, Virus Cleaner (Hi Security Lab), CM Browser, Mi Community, DU recorder, Vault-Hide, YouCam Makeup, Mi Store, CacheClear DU apps studio, DU Battery Saver, DU Cleaner, DU Privacy, 360 Security, DU Browser, Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile, Baidu Translate, Baidu Map, Wonder Camera, ES File Explorer, Photo Wonder, QQ International, QQ Music, QQ Mail, QQ Player, QQ NewsFeed, WeSync, QQ Security Centre, SelfieCity, Mail Master, Mi Video call-Xiaomi, QQ Launcher.

While it isn’t yet specified how the named applications gather intelligence or can be used by Chinese agencies, but the agencies have reportedly passed strict instructions not to “use these apps either in office or on personal mobile phones”. “If some of them are already using any of these apps, then they should be asked to immediately uninstall the app and format their cellphones,” it reads.

In response to the ban, TrueCaller said, “In response to certain reports, we would like to clarify that we are a Sweden based company. We are not sure why the app is on this list, but we’re investigating. Truecaller is not a malware, and all our features are permission based and are disabled by default.”

Xiaomi too has responded to this saying, “At Xiaomi, we take security and privacy very seriously. Our global e-commerce platforms and user data for all international users is located on Amazon AWS data centers in California and Singapore. We are currently investigating the advisory and would like to assure Mi Fans that we are fully committed to storing and transferring our users’ data securely at all times. ”

Tencent has responded to the matter as well, “At Tencent, user privacy and data protection are our top priorities. Our products are not spyware and we do not condone or adopt the use of spyware in our products. We take these allegations seriously and will be taking steps to clarify any misunderstanding.

We continually review our products to ensure we deliver products that meet a high standard ofuser experience and information security.

In January 2014, WeChat received TRUSTe’s Privacy Certification for the first time, demonstrating WeChat’s compliance with TRUSTe’s program requirements in providing a high level of protection to safeguard user information. Since then, WeChat has been collaborating closely with TrustArc (formerly TRUSTe) on an ongoing basis regarding the WeChat privacy policy and on any updates to the policy.  WeChat encrypts messages between our servers and users’ devices ensuring that messages are securely transferred. We always adhere to Tencent’s core mission to create value for our users by providing high standards of user experience and information security. For more about our user information security.”

A similar instance happened in October 2014, when the Indian Air Force asked its personnel and their families not to use Chinese ‘Xiaomi Redmi 1s’ phones as it believed those phones could be transferring data to their servers in China and hence be a security risk.

  • Published Date: December 3, 2017 4:38 PM IST
  • Updated Date: December 6, 2017 12:45 PM IST