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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

Website that allowed users to install Google apps on Huawei Mate 30 phones taken down

The last possible way to install Google apps on Huawei Mate 30 phones was recently shot down after a security researcher revealed the backdoor attempt.

tech Updated: Oct 04, 2019 19:02 IST
Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
A quad-camera lens array sits on the back of a Huawei Technologies Co. Mate 30 smartphone during the device's unveiling in Munich, Germany, on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
A quad-camera lens array sits on the back of a Huawei Technologies Co. Mate 30 smartphone during the device's unveiling in Munich, Germany, on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.(Bloomberg)
         

A China-based website that allowed for manual installation of Google’s Android apps on Huawei’s newly launched Mate 30 devices went offline on Wednesday after a security researcher highlighted the “backdoor” to sidestep a U.S. ban.

The link to the website, LZPlay, surfaced about 10 days earlier on Reddit.

“This GMS (Google Mobile Services) installer is ad-free, well-designed, and ONLY works for Huawei devices,” wrote a user.

Launched two weeks earlier, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s Mate 30 phone uses an open-source version of Android without falling foul of the U.S. ban, but the devices do not come with pre-installed applications such as Google Maps.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration effectively blacklisted Huawei in mid-May, alleging it is involved in activities that compromise national security, a charge the company denies. Google was among the first U.S. companies to suspend business with Huawei, hobbling the company’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant lost access to updates to Google’s Android operating system.

LZPlay used an undocumented “backdoor” in Huawei’s mobile device management software to install Google software, a security researcher wrote in a blog post https://medium.com/@topjohnwu/huaweis-undocumented-apis-a-backdoor-to-reinstall-google-services-c3a5dd71a7cd on Tuesday.

“At this point, it is pretty obvious that Huawei is well aware of this LZPlay app, and explicitly allows its existence,” said researcher John Wu.

“Although this ‘backdoor’ requires user interaction to be enabled, the installer app, which is signed with a special certificate from Huawei, was granted privileges nowhere to be found on standard Android systems,” he said.

A Huawei spokeswoman denied any relationship with LZPlay.

“Huawei’s latest Mate 30 series is not pre-installed with GMS, and Huawei has had no involvement with www.lzplay.net,” she said.

Google and Wu were not immediately available for comment.

A search of internet registration records showed that LZPlay website was registered in July. It was not immediately clear who took down the website. Huawei announced its own mobile operating system, dubbed Harmony, in August. But analysts are skeptical that it is yet a viable alternative to Android.