OnePlus OxygenOS phone data tracking raises privacy concerns
Oct 11 2017 by Joanne Wise
After analyzing the data the phone was sending to open.oneplus.net domain, he learned that it contained information about the screen, device unlock events, abnormal reboots, serial number, IMPEI, phone numbers, MAC address, mobile network names, IMSI prefixes, as well as wireless network ESSID and BSSID.
Earlier, there have been reports on OnePlus manipulating benchmarks and incorrect mounting displays but this time around, Moore while participating in the SANS Holiday Hack Challenge chose to check the internet traffic from his phone OnePlus2 2. According to a blog post by security researcher Christopher Moore, he found his OnePlus 2 sending specific user patterns to a company server without his permission. OxygenOS, which is company's operating software that runs on top of Android, is said to be facilitating data transmission without a user's prior permission.
After deeper investigation, the culprit responsible for data collection is a system app called OnePlus System Service.
Moore has also noticed that OnePlus has also been collecting details like the apps a user opens and when the user launched or closed an app. Actually, you can disable it permanently: "pm uninstall -k -user 0 pkg", Czekanski wrote on Twitter, in response to Moore's blog post. Meanwhile, OnePlus was quick to respond to this issue by saying that the data collection is being done only to improve the smartphone's performance.
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However, when this issue was reported to OnePlus, the company confirmed that they transmit analytics data in two different streams over HTTPS to an Amazon server. The first stream is usage analytics, which we collect in order for us to more precisely fine tune our software according to user behaviour.
Moore's attempts to get details from OnePlus on how to disable the data tracking weren't fruitful, though he found a Reddit thread that led to the revelation that the data tracking is happening through OnePlus Device Manage and Device Manager Provider. The company also mention that users can also switch off data transmission activity by navigating to "Settings" - "Advanced" - "Join user experience program". The second stream is device information, which we collect to provide better after-sales support. First of all, this was all demonstrated with Moores OnePlus 2. Earlier this year, the company was accused of inflating OnePlus 5's benchmark scores on apps like Geekbench 4.