Hoverwatch is compatible with numerous ZTE handsets. HW logs SMS, MMS, WhatsApp and Facebook messages, contacts, phone calls, locations, websites.
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FireEye said in a report issued on Thursday that the hackers belong to the group designated Advanced Persistent Threat 41 , or APT41, which it says has been involved in spying and cybercrime for most of the past decade.
The cybersecurity firm would not identify or otherwise characterize the victims or the impacted telecoms provider or give its location. The spyware was programmed to capture messages containing references to political leaders, military and intelligence organizations and political movements at odds with the Chinese government, FireEye said.
FireEye said the hackers also stole detailed calling records on specific individuals, obtaining the phone numbers they interacted with, call durations and times. FireEye did not identify the maker of the equipment that was hacked or specify how the hackers penetrated the telecom provider networks. The offending company, Shanghai Adups Technology Co.
Chinese malware hidden in smartphones certainly sounds suspicious, but it's hardly a smoking gun.
After all, the greatest threats that computers and mobile devices around the world faced in the past year, Spectre and Meltdown, stemmed from security flaws in American-made chips. For phones to function properly, many core processes require access to your location data, calls, and messages. So while many Chinese smartphones don't actively use any Chinese apps, as the Adups case reveals, they still have firmware and other relatively innocuous pre-loaded background software that communicate with servers in China.
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Chinese tech companies play a central role in the government's far-reaching surveillance apparatus that closely monitors what its citizens are doing and saying online. Under China's sweeping cybersecurity law, companies are required to give authorities full access to its data upon request.
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So when it comes to Chinese-made smartphones, the worry is less about nefarious hackers hiding malware on phones, and more about where data from mundane apps is going. She faces a court date in February when it will be decided if she should be extradited to the US to face chargers. To complicate things, Meng is also the daughter of Huawei founder and president Ren Zhengfei. Poland — where a Huawei employee was arrested on spying charges he has since been fired — has called for EU and Nato leaders to make a joint decision on whether Huawei's infrastructure equipment should be banned.
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It all comes down to alleged ties to the Chinese government. Thorley, who lived in China for seven years and started a business there, says all of the country's institutions and businesses are essentially reliant on the ruling Communist Party. But when the party needs to pull on that and leverage it, it does and will. It has been suggested the Chinese state could put pressure on Huawei to install backdoors into its products which would allow China to spy on network traffic, potentially on a global scale.
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Political leaders have also questioned Huawei founder Ren, who was an engineer in China's army and joined the ruling Communist Party in Similar concerns have previously been raised around Russian security firm Kaspersky , and its connections to intelligence services in the country. But there's a problem. For all the accusations, there's very little proof. The fears around Huawei aren't new. Since then, there have been repeated claims security warnings about the business.
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China's Belt and Road Initiative, where technology and IT systems are given to developing countries has also been viewed as one potential route to surveillance. In January , Le Monde published a report claiming the Chinese government had been spying on the African Union's headquarters. The country, which denies the allegations, built the headquarters as a gift. So far, the UK government hasn't made any moves to ban or block Huawei's tech from its systems. But as with a large number of countries in Europe, the UK uses Huawei's technology and has a long-standing, complex relationship with the firm.