With over 100 million installs on the Google Play Store, VivaVideo is one of the most popular free video editing apps for Android. However, it may not be the safest one you can get on the Play Store. Researchers at VPNpro have found that VivaVideo actually spies on users. The app asks for a wide host of dangerous permissions that are not necessary for a video editing app.
Other apps from the same developer also show similarly suspicious behavior. VPNpro recommends users to delete them all from their phones as soon as possible.
VivaVideo could be a Chinese spyware app
VivaVideo is developed by QuVideo Inc, a Chinese company based in Hangzhou. While it is a decent free video editing app, it asks for several dangerous permissions that make it unsafe for use. It asks for a user’s specific GPS location, which is not necessary for a video editing app.
Other dangerous permissions include the ability to read and write files to external drives. This allows the app to read through your saved files, including system logs as well as other apps’ files. This also gives the app ability to upload files to users’ device storage.
Not only this may violate your privacy, but the developer could also sell user data to third parties for a hefty amount. Such user data could be used for malicious activities. So this makes VivaVideo an extremely dangerous app to have on your phone.
In fact, this app has a history of malware. Back in 2017, the Indian government had issued a countrywide advisory to all military and paramilitary formations asking them to delete over 40 Chinese apps for suspicious behavior. VivaVideo was one of them.
Other QuVideo apps are equally dangerous
There are a total of six apps under the QuVideo network across the Android and iOS ecosystems. Along with VivaVideo, the Chinese company also owns VivaVideo PRO Video Editor HD, SlidePlus – Photo Slideshow Maker, Tempo – Music Video Editor with Effects, VivaCut – Pro Video Editor APP, and VidStatus – Status Videos & Status Downloader. These apps have a combined total of over 157 million installs on the Play Store.
All of these apps ask for similarly unnecessary and dangerous permissions. VidStatus asks for the ability to read phone state, contacts, user’s call log, and access to GPS location. None of these permissions are necessary for a WhatsApp tool. VidStatus was earlier identified as malware by Microsoft, containing a Trojan known as AndroidOS/AndroRat.
The Tempo app, which is only available on Apple App Store, also unnecessarily asks for four separate location permissions, including background location. So it can access your location, even when you're not using the app.
What's ironic is that, although all of these apps are related to video or video editing, only three of them request camera permissions, with only two requiring audio access. On the other hand, all of the apps ask for the ability to read and write files on the external SD card. This allows them to make any changes to files saved on external storage.
These apps are hiding their Chinese connection
Interestingly, some of these apps are published under different developers on the Google Play Store. However, they are all related to QuVideo in some way. VidStatus, for example, is owned by a Chinese company Hangzhou Zhuying Technology Co., Ltd., which also reportedly owns QuVideo.
This app is also not transparent about its Chinese location. It lists itself as being based in India. While that's true to an extent, the app is eventually owned by a Chinese company. So the listing is not quite transparent about its Chinese connection. VivaCut also has a Hong Kong address on its Play Store page.
On average, QuVideo apps are requesting five dangerous permissions that are completely unnecessary. You, of course, have the choice to not grant those permissions, but that may stop the app from functioning properly. Furthermore, permissions like the "location extra commands" asked by the Tempo app are not granted by the user and hence can’t be revoked by the user.
In a nutshell, the aforementioned six apps aren't among the safest apps for your phone. You can certainly find safer alternatives to them on the Google Play Store. If you have any of these apps installed on your phone, we recommend you delete them as soon as possible.