Free online software provided by China's Baidu search engine has been covertly sending almost all information inputted in Japanese to Baidu Inc.’s servers, according to a computer security company.
According to Takayuki Sugiura, president of NetAgent, when individuals use the Baidu IME software, information entered in full-width characters, kanji converted from hiragana, computer ID numbers and information on e-mail programs and word-processing programs being used, are automatically sent to Baidu Inc.’s servers in Japan.
“I want people to stop using the software until it is revised,” Sugiura said.
Baidu Inc. says on its webpage that the Baidu IME program, released in 2010, has a function to send inputted data to its servers so that it can improve its Japanese conversion capabilities.
Although this automatic data transmitting function is switched off in the default setting, Sugiura found that Baidu IME secretly sends users’ information even when the function is turned off.
“It is a big problem that it sends data even if the function is switched off,” Sugiura said.
If users write in half-size characters and numbers, their information, such as IDs, passwords, and telephone numbers, is not sent, Sugiura said.
Sugiura said Baidu’s Japanese input software for smartphones, named Simeji, is also transmitting inputted user data that it is not supposed to.
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