Alibaba Browser collects data from millions of users
Alibaba Browser collects data from millions of users

Alibaba's UC Browser promises not to save browser history or search in incognito mode.

These guarantees and promise of faster download times have made Alibaba's UCWeb browser popular worldwide with 500 million downloads via Android alone.

Based on the number of users worldwide, this browser is the fourth largest. This is mainly due to the large user base in Asia.

Before it was banned by the Indian government due to security concerns regarding Chinese apps, it was believed to be one of the most popular browsers in India.

However, according to security researcher Gabi Cirlig, UCWeb's data protection obligations are misleading.

Research shows that in the Android and iOS versions of UC Browser, every website a user visits, whether in incognito or not, is sent to a server owned by UCWeb.

Searlig said that the IP address, which can be used to determine a user's approximate location in a user's city or town, is also sent to a server controlled by Alibaba.

These servers are registered in China. It has the Chinese domain suffix .cn. But it happened in the United States. Each user is also assigned an identification number, which enables Chinese companies to track their activities on various websites.

It is not yet clear how Alibaba and its subsidiaries will deal with this data. Searlig wrote in a blog post that this could lead to users being confronted with their identity.

Alibaba Spy Browser:

Searlig was able to uncover the problem by reverse engineering some of the encrypted data he found upon his return to Beijing.

Once the key is cracked, he can see it every time he visits the site. It will be encrypted and returned to Alibaba.

Searlig does not have to reverse-engineer encryption via iOS as there is none on the device.

“This type of tracking is done on purpose and ignores user privacy,” said Seerlig.

For example, compared to Google Chrome, it cannot transmit user browsing habits in Incognito mode.

Searlig said he examined other major browsers and found that none of them did the same thing as UC Browser.

He added that cookies can track users in the same way. This is different from the browser getting the URL.

Searlig showed in a video what happens when he uses the UC Browser, including adding a unique identification number.

Another problem with the iOS version of the Alibaba app. The pageviews log is not disclosed to users.

After Apple introduced a feature in the App Store detailing the privacy practices of each app, it has not been updated.

Alibaba, which has a market capitalization of $600 billion, has raised concerns about Apple's app tracking transparency feature. This feature allows users to prevent application tracking.

One of the first clear signs that this iPhone maker's focus on privacy has created huge problems for companies like Alibaba is the inability to access one of its most popular mobile apps through the Apple App Store.

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