Perhaps, you have heard about Xiaomi’s recent data-hoarding scandal. The company was accused in stealing data from its users and transmitting them to a server in Beijing, China. The stored data included search engine queries whether with Google or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo, and every item viewed on a news feed feature of the Xiaomi software. It turns out that if you’ve been using a Xiaomi phone, your data and sessions have been stored. Moreover, the activities on Incognito mode are also stored. Sounds bad, agree? That’s why we are going to understand – are Xiaomi smartphones safe to use?
Xiaomi Has Been Sending Your Data To Its Servers In China
As we know, Xiaomi is mainly famous for its low-price and high-quality products. But that low cost could end up with a high price – the privacy.
At Forbes’ request, cybersecurity researcher Andrew Tierney found browsers ‘shipped’ by Xiaomi on Google Play—Mi Browser Pro and the Mint Browser, were collecting the same data. According to Google Play statistics, together, they have more than 15 million downloads.
Further, Cirlig was suspicious about the fact that the problems affect many more models than the one he tested (the Redmi Note 8). So, he downloaded firmware for other Xiaomi smartphones, including Xiaomi Mi 10, Redmi K20, and Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 devices. After testing, he confirmed that the models had the same browser code. The latter has led him to suspect they had the same privacy issues.
“My main concern for privacy is that the data sent to their servers can be very easily correlated with a specific user,” warned Cirlig.
After what you read about, the most important thing, for now, is Xiaomi’s response. So, in response to the above-mentioned facts, Xiaomi said “The research claims are untrue and privacy and security is of top concern”. The company also added that it strictly follows and is fully compliant with local laws and regulations on user data privacy matters.
But a spokesperson confirmed that it was collecting all the data browsing by the user. In addition, the information was anonymized, so as it cannot be tied to any identity. Xiaomi was also collecting data about the phone. Say, it was collecting the Android system version and the specific device identification numbers. At this point, Xiaomi claims that data collection is the best practice for improvements in features and performance. And as the data is anonymous, there is no trace of the user’s identity.
Also Read: 8 Strange Facts About Xiaomi You Probably Didn’t Know
Later, Xiaomi updated its Mint and Mi Browsers. After the update, users could disallow “aggregated” data collection. All you have to do is to turn off the switch, and the idea is that it will stop any collection of data.
Is MIUI Spying On You?
Going forward, we should say that MIUI is considered to be one of the safest systems. If you are not aware, there was an incident with the Stage Fright. It is a virus that exploits vulnerabilities in Android’s multimedia function. Tons of Android smartphones were infected. But no Xiaomi phone did because MIUI had already security measures to handle this type of viruses.
Honestly, Xiaomi always takes early measures to handle malware or viruses and Patch the MIUI before it gets infected. Plus, we should mention Xiaomi’s quite good firewall, which prevents access to the user’s database from hackers.
On the other hand, MIUI requires permissions even for simple apps such as Camera, Bluetooth, Calls, Messages, and Contacts. This happens even when you use the built-in Mi Calculator. We remember, when one of the users asked Xiaomi why this happens, they said that the MI calculator app needs permission to check the online currency rate to a user currency converter. But if this annoys, you can disable the permission in settings.
The final conclusion for the safety of Xiaomi smartphones and other products depends on the user’s own safety protection actions. Xiaomi has its own MIUI operation system and it is better than many other OS for security bases from hackers. On the other hand, Xiaomi is affordable for many customers due to its low prices.
What’s your opinion related to the happenings? Will you continue to use Xiaomi smartphones?