FP ExplainersAug 18, 2022 13:10:58 IST
One of the most popular digital media players, the VLC Media Player app for PCs and Macs has been banned in India. However, the mobile version of the VLC media player app is still available for download on both the Apple App store and Google Play store.
The ban that has been imposed isn’t a proper ban, but rather a soft ban. Basically, the government has blocked access to the official VLC media player website, Videolan.org, from where users could have downloaded the latest version of the VLC Media Player for PCs and Macs.
Users can still download the app from popular hosting sites and other third-party websites, but such downloads usually have the risk of carrying infected files that can enable malicious actors to cause some serious damage. Ideally, one should always download software, even freeware like the VLC Media Player from authenticated and the official website.
People who have the installation files on their local devices or cloud storage can still install the program. Moreover, people who have the application installed on their systems can still use the system.
In April this year, cybersecurity experts claimed that a hacker group based out of China named Cicada were using VLC Media Player to deliver malware in systems as part of a cyberattack campaign backed by the Chinese government. These hackers mainly targeted users who were downloading their files from the Videolan.org website.
The cyberattack by Cicada is said to be spread across three continents and is aimed at espionage and has targeted numerous groups involved in political, legal, and religious activities, as well as non-government organisations (NGOs). The hacking has been traced to threat actor Cicada, also known as menuPass, Stone Panda, Potassium, APT10 and Red Apollo, which has been active for over 15 years.
Researchers at Symantec, an arm of American semiconductor manufacturing company Broadcom, discovered that after getting access to the target PC, the attacker used the popular VLC Media Player to install a modified loader on compromised devices.
Because the mobile apps are hosted on Google’s PlayStore and Apple’s App Store servers, and not on the servers where the desktop versions are hosted, they are deemed safe and hence have not been banned.
It is likely that the platform was banned along with the 54 Chinese apps, that the Indian government banned in February this year. However, one thing to keep in mind is that VLC is not a China-based software, but is backed and developed French group.