One of the world’s leading smartphone brands, Xiaomi is facing a lot of scrutiny and backlash over a backdoor created to spy on user smartphone usage and also track private web data.
An exclusive report was released by Forbes after a cybersecurity researcher by the names of Gabi Cirlig revealed some pressing concerns over Xiaomi tracking phone usage including private web data.
“It’s a backdoor with phone functionality,” said Gabi Cirlig after discovering that his Redmi Note 8 smartphone was watching almost everything he was doing on the phone.
According to the exclusive, the data collected is being sent to remote servers hosted by another Chinese tech giant, Alibaba, which is apparently rented by Xiaomi.
There have been several cases of tech giants tracking user data on various devices including email services and chatting apps like WhatsApp which have hidden back doors. So, this comes as no surprise when a Chinese smartphone maker like Xiaomi is said to be doing the same thing too.
Cirlig also found out that, apart from tracking data, the Chinese tech giant’s smartphone was also tracking his behaviour too, which worried him even more. Various forms of device data were also being harvested, meaning his identity and private life were exposed to Xiaomi.
Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi said to be recording millions of user private web and phone data
Cirlig goes on to add that when he looked at the device’s default web browser, he discovered that it had recorded all the websites he had visited, including search engine queries whether with Google or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo.
Apart from that, every item that he had viewed on a news feed feature of the Xiaomi software had also been recorded even when he was using the private incognito mode.
The device was also recording what folders he opened and to which screens he swiped, including the status bar and the settings page. All of the data was being packaged up and sent to remote servers in Singapore and Russia, though the Web domains they hosted were registered in Beijing.
Andrew Tierney, a cybersecurity researcher was contacted by Forbes to investigate further on the claim and it was later discovered that the browsers shipped by Xiaomi on Google Play—Mi Browser Pro and the Mint Browser—were collecting the same data. Together, they have more than 15 million downloads, according to Google Play statistics.
Millions of users having Xiaomi products are most likely affected by the same issue, which is a serious privacy concern that the Chinese company has continuously denied not being there.
Valued at $50 billion, Xiaomi is one of the top four smartphone makers in the world by market share, behind Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. The reason behind its success is due to its cheap devices that have similar qualities as higher-end smartphones.
A lot is yet to be said about this tracking issue but the same can’t be ruled out for other smartphone giants, which have also been involved in similar cases before.
Read more on the exclusive story from Forbes right here.
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.