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China Propaganda App Gives Backdoor Access to Android User Data

One of China’s most popular apps for Android devices—a propaganda app developed by the Chinese government—offers backdoor access to data on users’ mobile phones, The Washington Post reported, citing an analysis conducted by a German cybersecurity firm for the U.S.-backed Open Technology Fund.

The Chinese app, called Study the Great Nation, contains a number of articles and videos related to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s activities and ideology, the newspaper said, adding the app had more than 100 million registered users, citing Chinese state media. 

Although the app is available for Apple’s iOS operating system, Apple said the app wouldn’t be able to gain similar access to its users’ devices. The Washington Post said an analysis of the Android app couldn’t determine how backdoor access was being used. A spokesman for the Open Technology Fund said it was rare for a mobile app to have so much access to a device, the newspaper said.

The revelation is likely to renew debates about the security of the Android operating system versus Apple’s iOS, whose app store is more tightly controlled. The vast majority of smartphones in China use Android, and unlike in the U.S., Android app stores in China are highly fragmented and operated by Chinese companies as Google’s Play store is blocked in the country. 

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