Beware of spyware if you are planning a trip to China. An investigation has revealed China’s wide-ranging security network is targeting tourists. Chinese border guards are secretly installing a spyware app on the smartphones of tourists visiting Xinjiang. Even more, the officials are forcing visitors to unlock and hand over their mobiles when they go on a journey from nearby Kyrgyzstan to Xinjiang. Officials have organized detention facilities between a massive spying military operation against Uighur Muslims. For iPhones, they have a scanner which reads the data available in the device. Meanwhile, for Android phones, the guards have an app installed, which scans and pulls its data.
Reportedly, guards are stopping the tourists at Chinese borders in the Xinjiang sector. Besides, officers seize tourist’s smartphones and then install an app – Fengcai or BXAQ. The surveillance application continues to gather all personal information. Due to the spyware, they gain access to crucial activities, including text messages, contacts, call history, calendar note. The app also picks up the list of apps installed on a smartphone. After collecting all the information, Fengcai develops a report which is afterward uploaded to a server. The spyware also checks whether the files in the device like images, videos, documents, and audio, match any of the material present on a list included in the app’s code.
Whereas, there are as much as more than 73,000 items in the checklist for which the app seeks phone data. The massive record includes things like Islamic State publications, pictures of death sentences or achievements, and recordings of jihadi anthems. On the other hand, the list also provides matters having no ties with Islamic violence. To reveal the truth behind Chinese borders, various publications like The New York Times, The Guardian, and Vice’s Motherboard collectively carried out an investigation. The mutual analysis reveals that the Chinese app seeks for information against a target list. Still, it is not clear how officials are utilizing the collected data.