The Ministry claims that China’s Beidou Satellite System poses an information security risk to Taiwan in that the satellite is able to track smartphone users via embedded malware in devices with Chinese-manufactured chips directly tied into the system or phones manufactured in China.
The ministry said that that China’s satellite system was primarily for military use and that over the past few years, many smartphone vehicle navigation products using Beidou Satellite System guidance chips have been imported to Taiwan.
“Government employees should avoid purchasing related products to avoid being the target of attacks,” the report said.
China’s Shanghai Beiga Satellite Technology developed the first 40-nanometer satellite navigation chip in 2014 for use in tablets, smartphones and vehicle navigation systems specifically with the satellite system in mind.
The satellite system was aimed at car navigation, but the second generation of the system reportedly offers two separate services, one aimed at the public sector being the navigation system, and a restricted offering for China’s and Pakistan’s military communication and location data.
The ministry is worried that Taiwanese using Chinese-manufactured phones, or other smartphones using related software or chips, might be providing the Chinese military with information. It is thinking about banning smartphones or other devices that are capable of being linked to the Beidou Satellite system.
It will be interesting to see if the system appears in west on the Chinese phones which are bought from Internet suppliers in Hong Kong.