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The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense recently advised the people of this country to avoid buying or even throwing away smartphones originating from China. According to Reuters, this recommendation comes in the context of national authorities in the Baltic region discovering many technological devices from China that have built-in automatic censorship tools.
Specifically, the Lithuanian government’s Cybersecurity Center said that high-end phone models sold in Europe by Xiaomi are built-in with the ability to detect and censor sensitive keywords and political content. with China. The total number of these keywords is up to 449, and is constantly being updated.
According to the same agency, the aforementioned feature in the software of the Mi 10T 5G smartphone model was disabled by Xiaomi when it was sold in the European market. However, it can still be reactivated remotely by the company at any time.
A Mi Mix 3 5G smartphone on display during Xiaomi Corp’s launch event. in Barcelona, Spain, in 2019. Photo: CNN
“Our recommendation is that (people) not buy new Chinese phones and throw away the purchased phones as quickly as possible,” Margiris Abukevicius, Lithuania’s deputy defense minister, told the media.
Reportedly, the Lithuanian Cybersecurity Center also pointed out that Xiaomi phones are sending user data (encrypted) to a server in Singapore. A security flaw was also found in Huawei’s P40 5G smartphone, but no flaws were found in another Chinese manufacturer’s smartphone, OnePlus.
Before this information, Huawei’s representative in the Baltic region denied the accusations of Lithuania and affirmed that its smartphones do not send users’ data outside. As for Xiaomi, the technology company did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Worth mentioning, this is not the first time Chinese smartphone manufacturers have faced such accusations.
In 2016, the New York Times reported that with just a 50 USD ‘made in China’ phone, all user messages would be sent back to China every 72 hours.
In 2020, security service provider Secure-D discovered that smartphones of Tec no in Shenzhen (China) had pre-installed spyware. With two malware called xHelper and Triada pre-installed on the Tecno W2, Secure-D detected more than 844,000 fraudulent transactions made between March and December 2019. These models are mainly sold in Africa, Indonesia and India.
Most recently, in May 2021, PCMag discovered a ‘made in China’ phone called Jethro SC490 sending data to the place of manufacture. Priced at $84.99, this model is sold in the US and Canada, but sends location and Wi-Fi data back to China. North American manufacturers then had to remove this ability to collect user data by updating the software themselves (firmware) for customers.
Refer to Reuters/CNN
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