German Watchdog Finds No Evidence Of Xiaomi Secret Function


Germany’s federal cybersecurity watchdog concludes Xiaomi investigation, after warning from Lithuanian counterparts about censorship risk

Germany’s IT security watchdog has contradicted its Lithuanian counterparts when it said there was no evidence of a censorship function in Xiaomi smartphones.

It was in September last year, when the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Centre published a report of its investigation into the handsets from three Chinese manufacturers, namely Xiaomi, Huawei & OnePlus.

The Lithuanian investigation found security risks with two of the three Chinese smartphones, and warned its citizens to stop using smartphones from the three manufacturers.

Image credit: Huawei

Lithuanian warning

The Lithuanian security assessment was carried out on the Huawei P40 5G, Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G and OnePlus 8T 5G mobile handsets.

It found that the Huawei P40 model could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks due to the way of installing mobile applications.

This was because the official Huawei app store (AppGallery) directs users to third-party e-stores where some of the applications have been assessed by anti-virus programs as malicious or infected with viruses.

The Xiaomi Mi 10T handset meanwhile was found by Lithuanian officials to have built-in censorship tools, that could detect and censor terms including “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement”.

These censorship tools were reportedly switched off for European handsets but could be remotely activated, the Lithuanian investigation found.

The Lithuanian report however did not find any security issues with the OnePlus handset, but that did not stop Lithuanian officials from recommending that all Chinese handsets should be discarded as soon as possible.

German investigation

As a result of this warning, Germany’s federal cybersecurity watchdog, the BSI, conducted its own investigation, Reuters reported.

However the BSI did not find any evidence of censorship functions in mobile phones manufactured by Xiaomi, a spokesperson was quoted by Reuters as saying on Thursday.

“As a result, the BSI was unable to identify any anomalies that would require further investigation or other measures,” the BSI spokesperson reportedly said.

The OnePlus handset had already been cleared by the Lithuanian security assessment, and there was no word from the BSI about the Lithuanian warning concerning the Huawei P40 model.

However the security risks associated with using third-party, none official app stores are well documented.