Amidst continuous tension between India and China on its borders, the Centre has now decided to crack down on popular Chinese mobile browser — UC Browser — over reports of data theft and leakages. Indian government is not taking any chances on this strategically important issue…

NEW DELHI, AUGUST 21, 2017: After cracking down on Chinese mobile companies for not sharing their security procedures and protocols that may hamper data security, the Centre has now initiated a security audit against popular Chinese mobile browser — UC Browser — fearing compromises in security and privacy issues.

Hyderabad unit of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) under the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) has started probing suspected cases of data leakages from UC Browser. If found guilty, UC Browser could be banned in India.

Owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, UC Browser is learnt to have some serious security and privacy issues. It is one of the most popular mobile browser in India and China. In India it enjoys over 55% market share and its downloaded in over 500 million (50 crore) devices. The high usage of UC Browser by Indian smartphone users have alarmed the government which fears that any data theft or leakage could lead to compromise of India’s strategic interests and also hurt interests of individuals.

MEITY officials are also concerned over a May 2015 report by the Citizen Lab in University of Toronto, Canada, which found that the Chinese version of UC browser leaks information. An internal note says the UC Browser sends user and device identifiers (international mobile subscriber identity or IMSI and international mobile equipment identity or IMEI, and location data (cell tower data) to a remote server.

Similarly, Umeng, an Alibaba analytics tool, also sends device identifiers to a remote location. When a device is connected to the web using Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi details including the phone’s media access control (MAC) address, the service set identifier (SSID), and the MAC address of the Wi-Fi access point are also sent. UC Browser retains domain name servers (DNS) data even after a user has cleaned the private browsing data. All these are crucial to protect data theft, a senior official said.

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