Is Nokia 7 Plus devices on a spying mission?

Is Nokia 7 Plus devices on a spying mission?

Friday, March 22, 2019 2:11 pm


By Daniels Ekugo

With the current level insecurity, killings, kidnapping and political thuggery experienced in the country lately vis a vis the market share of the Nokia brand in Nigeria, the recent story emanating from other markets against the Nokia brand may pose greater risk to the Nigerian elites, political Giants who patronize the Nokia brand over revelation of secretly sending encrypted data to a third party..

Nigeria should be very serious about data privacy, as  concerns are mounting for serious investigation against Nokia and its devices and should not tolerate when companies leak or consciously send the data of users without their approval. 

The latest instance that turned some heads concerns the Finnish company, HMD Global, and their Nokia 7 Plus.

According to NRKBeta, they received a tip last month concerning the Nokia 7 Plus handset. The reader of the portal found out after analyzing the network traffic that the device was sending some very sensitive data to Chinese servers.

 What’s even more, the data was completely unencrypted, which made it vulnerable to be exploited not only by Chinese authorities but also by anyone who knows how to pull off a simple man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. Here are the types of information that were sent to the Chinese servers:

• IMEI1 and IMEI2 – the device’s unique serial number;

• SIM1CELLID –  ID of the base station the device is connected to;

• SIM1LTEIMSI – ID of the 4G network user;

• SIM1ICCID – SIM card identification number;

• MACID – MAC address (unique identification number) of the WiFi.

NRKbeta claims that all of this information was sent to the domain. A quick search tells us that the domain is owned by the state-controlled China Telecom. Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman, Reijo Aarnio contacted the publication and confirmed that his team and security experts will start investigating the event.

TheNEWS sent an email to HMD office in Nigeria to verify or clarify the above story. Later on, HMD Global replied, where they mention this case is an error with only one production batch of the device. They claim that they already sent out the software update that fixes the issue and most of the users have already installed it.

It said: ‘We can confirm that there has been an error in the software packing process in a single batch of one handset model, which mistakenly attempted to send activation data to a foreign server.’

‘The data was never processed and no personal information was shared with third parties or authorities,’ it said.

‘This has now been fixed and almost any device affected by this error has now installed the update. HMD Global takes the safety and privacy of our customers seriously,’ the company said.

In recent years, data security concerns over smartphones and network equipment made by the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei have drawn warnings from western intelligence agencies.

It is currently unknown if any of the Nigerian authorities have looked into the issue. As of now, it seems to be only affecting the Nokia 7 Plus device, which is also released in China. 

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