Once again India has picked out Chinese apps and listed them as spyware or malware. Indian intelligence agencies have reportedly listed as many as 42 mobile applications that have the potential to carry out a cyber-attack against the country. Under a new advisory, the agencies have reportedly issued a warning to the Indian army and paramilitary against their usage. An India Today report posted the advisory letter in its website and the report reads out as: “As per reliable inputs, a number of Android/IOS apps developed by Chinese developers or having Chinese links are reportedly either spyware or other malicious ware. Use of these apps by our force personnel can be detrimental to data security having implications on the force and national security.”
“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,” the company said in a statement.
The Home Ministry has come up with the advisory with inputs from several intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO). Army personnel have been asked to immediately uninstall the 42 mobile apps as well as format their smartphones. It is not the first time that the Indian government has flagged Chinese apps under doubts of espionage. In 2016 itself, the centre had issued another advisory which asked people to refrain from using Chinese origin applications as well as smartphones made in the neighbouring country. Additionally, a while back, even some internet modems were listed with suspicion of malicious activities of the gadgets.
It is interesting to note that, of the more than 40 apps, most of them mentioned in the list are anti-virus or web browsing apps. The circular has advised that all the officers and personnel should not use the apps for both official and personal purposes.
Here are the apps that have been listed, according to the report: Weibo, WeChat, SHAREit, 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, and QQ Launcher.
Sweden-based Truecaller is also reportedly part of the list. Truecaller has replied to the issue. It 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.”