The Indian government banned several Chinese apps including VLC Media Player six months ago, the Indian Express reported. However, the Android version of the app is still available for existing users on the Google Playstore and the iOS app store. New users are not allowed to download the app.
Since the beginning of this year, there has been a sharp increase in cases of cyber attacks in the country. By June this year, more than 670,000 cases had been filed in India, quoted Ajay Kuma Mishra, India’s home minister, while answering a question in the Lok Sabha.
PCs and smartphones that already have VLC media player installed have no problems running the application. However, the app can still be accessed using VPN services. Additionally, the offline executable installer can still be installed on desktops and laptops, the Indian Express report said.
Launched in France and developed by VideoLAN, the app has a very modular design that allows it to include modules/plugins for new file formats, codecs, interfaces or streaming methods. It supports audio and video compression methods and file formats including Video CD, DVD-Video and streaming protocols. Transcodes multimedia files and streams media over computer networks.
The website stopped working a few months ago, but the user noticed it very late.
Gagandeep Sapra, a twitter user, through his tweet shows what description the user will get when he tries to download the app. His tweet mentions, “The website has been blocked as per the order of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under the IT Act, 2000,” as reported by IE.
Under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, the Union Government has the power to ban/restrict applications and websites that threaten the security, integrity and sovereignty of the country after due process.
VLC media player has been infiltrated with malware by a hacker group called ‘Cicada’ with Chinese links. Some reports mentioned the reason for the player’s ban — his connection to China. Indian user data was sent abroad and cyber attacks were launched in India.
Cybersecurity researchers at Symantec have discovered that the “Cicada group” is installing malware on compromised devices using the VLC media player to target high-profile figures. Cicada victims have been found in India, USA, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong and several other countries around the world, Zee News quoted.
No official word has been received from the government. However, VideoLAN President Jean-Baptiste Kempf commented on the ban saying: “We have been banned since February 13 this year and we don’t know why. We have asked the Indian government but have not received any response. as quoted by India Today.