Chinese Spyware 'Masquerading' As Android Apps Targets Uyghurs, Says Report

Chinese Spyware 'Masquerading' As Android Apps Targets Uyghurs, Says Report

Spyware, allegedly connected to Xi Jinping's government-backed hackers, targets the Uyghurs minority group

What Happened: A spyware campaign run by APT15 — a Chinese-backed hacking group — "masquerading" as Android apps, including messaging services, prayer time apps and dictionaries, is targeting the Uyghurs, a new report from cloud security firm Lookout showed. 

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The spyware can track people who use services that may be considered a "pre-crime" in China or are seen by Xi's administration as indicating that someone is engaging in or willing to engage in religious extremist or separatist activity.  

In China, "Pre-crime" activities – that include using a virtual private network (VPN) or sharing any religious content – could lead to being detained in a re-education camp.

The report added that the surveillance campaign targets Uyghurs in China, and evidence shows they were also looking to target Uyghurs in countries such as Afghanistan or Turkey. 

Beijing's mass surveillance apparatus and its targeting of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region have been widely documented since the "strike hard" campaign, which led to strained ties with the U.S. over alleged human rights abuses.

The U.S. has since then put several Chinese surveillance camera companies on its entity list for complicity in human rights violations. Many such companies have also reportedly filed for patents to develop features that allow them to detect or set up alerts when an Uyghur person is detected, according to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has also found that China is responsible for "serious human rights violations" against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

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Posted In: ChinaEurasiaSpywareUyghursXi JinpingNewsPoliticsGlobalGeneral