SECURITY FIRMS including Symantec and Malwarebytes are using their anti-virus software to flag attempts by Chinese border control to install spyware on travellers' smartphones.
It recently came to light that the border control authority in China's Xinjiang region was installing surveillance software on the phones of tourists without their knowledge or consent. The software apparently kept an eye out for terms that related to Islamic extremism and literature by the Dalai Lama.
Naturally, this is quite the abuse of privacy. So, according to Vice, cybersecurity firms have been analysing the malware, dubbed BXAQ or Fengcai.
The report claims that multiple cybersecurity firms have software that now detects the presence of the Chinese spyware, and depending on the anti-virus software, a pop-up will alert people to the presence of snooping software on their phone.
Malwarebytes said it had created a rule to detect the Chinese malware, and Symantec said its anti-virus software would have already detected the dodgy software and have flagged it as an unwanted app.
As such, folks visiting China's Xinjiang province who use software from the aforementioned cybersecurity firms should be safe from the phone-probing conducted by Chinese border control without a warrant to do so.
That being said, the Chinese border control tends to sideload the spyware, which can bypass security checks normally done through at the stage of downloading an Android app through Google's Play Store, which means there's no guarantee that anti-virus software will keep China's snooping at bay.
Nevertheless, the move by the security firms to actively block such spyware is effectively shoving two fingers up at China's ahem socialist government and its heavy-handed surveillance. It's also indicative of how security firms aren't limited or restricted by national borders, despite the stones thrown by the US at Russian security firm Kaspersky. µ
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