A report by German cybersecurity firm Cure53 suggests the Chinese Communist Party's app, Study the Great Nation, has & # 39; superuser & # 39; access to over 100 million Android devices . It notes that the app has a back door that the authorities can access messages, photos, contacts and browsing history for these handsets.
When a researcher at the agency inspected the app, they found that encoders "deliberately used" weak encryption in features such as mail and biometric authentication. In addition, it stores files on the phone's storage in a way that other apps can read data from them. This is dangerous if the authorities have other apps on your phone, they can easily read all the data stored by this app and send them back to the authorities.
More shockingly, the report notes that the app has a backdoor-like command line that executes superuser commands to increase access to the phone's data without explicitly requesting root access. Through this root approach authorities can track your location, enable audio recording, or call a number on your behalf without your knowledge.
The investigation was commissioned by the Open Technology Fund, a US government initiative under the Radio Free Asia program. The director of research, Adam Lynn, told the Washington Post that it is unusual for such an app to have root access, and that encoders have gone to hide its operating modes:
The access itself is significant. The fact that they have gone this far [to hide it] only further increases the control around this. It can take over the entire device and it may be sending back information.
China's State Information Office has denied all allegations.
The app, originally published in January, has reportedly been used by the party to push its propaganda. It launched several social networking campaigns like WeChat and Weibo to encourage people to install the app. As WaPo noted, the party has issued directives to its members to download the app, and several jobs have also mandated its use.
Such apps are harmful to users' privacy and their activities on the Internet. China's already known for a dense wall and events like this do not help the already muddy international image of the technology world.