Americans and Europeans are allegedly being spied on via Chinese smartphones, according to the Lithuanian government.
The government of Lithuania warns people to get rid of any Chinese mobile phones from Xiaomi or Huawei, based on the recently published report regarding the security issues of 5G smartphones from China.
Xiaomi seems to favor the Chinese government that threatens its users over the West—for instance, installing a censorship module in each smartphone and using it to communicate with Chinese-run servers worldwide. On the other hand, the lax app-installation process of Huawei can allegedly infect smartphones with Android malware.
OnePlus, another Chinese smartphone brand that is reportedly safe and did not trigger the suspicions of the security researchers, even though reports for the last few years regarding the three brands mentioned concerning any possible suspicious activities are still to follow.
None from Huawei or Xiaomi have direct distributions or carrier partnerships in the US, but their smartphones have been popular amongst users and major online sellers.
Advice for users of Chinese smartphones
All Android phones must have an antivirus application, mainly if users frequently use and put sensitive information in these devices. It is recommended to avoid installing applications from third-party app stores aside from the built-in AppGallery on Huawei phones.
Researchers left the decisions to Xiaomi users if they choose to continue using smartphones because the accusations from the Lithuanian government report were still unverified. Security researchers cannot identify the claims about the censorship module since they cannot track the encrypted messages.
According to the reports made by Lithuanian researchers, the Xiaomi Mi 10T device has a file that is regularly gets updated, which is called the “MiAdBlacklistConfig.” The said file holds a list of almost 400 taboo Chinese phrases. These phrases are being concealed against the Chinese citizens by its government. That is why the phone included a built-in filter system that blocks users from viewing any online media related to the phrases.
The reports added that this function limits the freedom for information and accessibility of its users.