The Lithuanian National Cyber Security Centre has accused Chinese smartphones of leaking user data. After a detailed audit of mobile security, Xiaomi and Huawei phones were flagged as dangerous devices.
Explained by Ars Technica, the report breaks down Huawei’s P40 5G, Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G, and OnePlus’ 8T 5G smartphones. While the former two devices are labelled as troublesome, OnePlus’ 8T 5G phone was let off Scott-free.
Xiaomi MiAdBlackListConfig and data leaks
The NCSC report claims that these devices have software that's purpose-built to leak user data. Additionally, these devices are said to have built-in censorship software to hide “sensitive topics”. These topics are reportedly decided by the Chinese government.
Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G was discovered to have a sensor data module. This module collects data from “61 parameters” that are sent to Xiaomi's Singapore servers. As Ars Technica and the NCSC Singapore doesn't adhere to GDPR rules and, as such, is infamous for data abuse.
Additionally, the Mi 10T 5G has been a used of regularly downloading “MiAdBlackListConfig”. This file is allegedly a blacklist of political, religious and other topics. This blacklist scans a device to block “undesirable” content. While the file is downloaded in all regions, it’s disabled in the EU.
Huawei is less dangerous
Huawei’s P40 5G is nowhere near as dangerous as Xiaomi’s device. Unlike the Mi 10T 5G, the Huawei device doesn't explicitly send data to the Chinese government. However, it's not exactly a safe device for everyone to use.
Due to the device’s use of AppGallery instead of Google Play, many apps are not available. However, if an app isn't available, it'll download apps from third-party pirate websites such as Aptoide, APKPure and more.
As a result, the NCSC found possible malware on apps such as: All-in-One social media, CNC Machinist Tapping Calculator and others. Malware-filled apps are treated the same as legitimate software.
A mixed bag
Out of the three devices, Xiaomi offers the most dangerous phone. However, devices such as the OnePlus 8T 5G is essentially flawless. Devices out of China are often treated as dangerous, but the reality is a mixed bag.
As it stands, the Mi 10T 5G appears to be a very scary device, especially for those outside of European Union. If you can, it's likely best to avoid this device.