Alibaba's UC Browser found leaking users' data

Alibaba claims it has fixed the issues

The UC Browser is a popular app in China. Alibaba Group acquired it last year.

The UC Browser is a popular app in China. Alibaba Group acquired it last year.

A mobile browser owned by China's Alibaba Group contained privacy risks that could have exposed users' personal data, according to a security group.

The flaws were found in UC Browser, a third-party app that's been expanding in popularity across the globe, and has over 100 million daily active users. Last year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group acquired UC Browser's parent company.

The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs investigated the mobile browser, and found that it was sending user data unencrypted, or with not enough encryption. This included transmitting phone numbers and device serial numbers, in addition to user search queries and geolocation data.

The lack of encryption would let anyone with access to the data traffic to identify a user's phone number, the device, and the person's location, Citizen Lab said in its report released Thursday.

Both UC Browser's Chinese language and English language versions contained the reported flaws. On Friday, Alibaba said it investigated the issues and has fixed the problem with a version update users can now download. "We have no evidence that any user information has been taken," the company said in an email.

The privacy risk is that governments such as China and India often require telecommunication providers to hand over their data traffic, Citizen Lab said. Any personal data leaked through UC Browser could be used by governments or other third parties, it added.

Citizen Lab investigated the UC Browser after a leak of a 2012 document by Edward Snowden, disclosed by Canada's CBC News, showed that Canada's intelligence agency and its partners were allegedly aware of security flaws in UC Browser, and wished to exploit them for electronic surveillance.

Although Citizen Lab found problems with UC Browser's software, the group could not confirm if they were the same vulnerabilities detailed in the document disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacymobilemobile applicationsAlibaba Group

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?