UC browser | UC browser search | UC browser app | UC browser mini | UC browser free download
The UC Browser is a web browser developed by UCWeb, a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group. As of 2017, it was the most popular mobile browser in India and Indonesia and the second most popular in China. According to Stat Counter, its global browser share as of May 2022 is 0.86 percent (and 1.48 percent on smartphones).
Originally released as a Java-only application in April 2004, it is now available on a variety of platforms, including Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS, Java ME, Symbian, Windows Phone, and Microsoft Windows. It has been the subject of several security and privacy concerns, and it was banned in India on June 29, 2020, shortly after the start of the 2020–2022 China–India skirmishes.
UC Browser functionality
UC Browser is a cross-platform web browser designed primarily for mobile phones. It is well-known for its small app size and data compression technology, which has made it popular in emerging markets where people have mobile phones with limited device memory and internet bandwidth. The browser, in particular, is unique in its use of proxy servers, which route data through UCWeb servers before sending it to the user’s device, allowing for data compression but also posing privacy concerns. The browser also has cloud acceleration, multi-file format downloading, HTML5 web app and cloud syncing features, and “fast download,” which downloads files in multiple parts at the same time.
UC Browser Platforms
UC Browser is available as an Android and iOS app, as well as on a number of other older or discontinued mobile operating systems such as BlackBerry OS, Symbian, and Windows Phone. While UCWeb is primarily a mobile app, it also has a Microsoft Windows desktop version (there is no macOS version).
UC Browser data compression
UC Browser compresses web pages before sending them to users via proxy servers. This process requires less memory on the user’s device and lowers data costs; however, it also poses privacy and security risks because all data accessed by the user through UC Browser first passes through a UC Web server before reaching the user’s device.
UC+: HTML5, Web App and add-ons
UC Web announced the UC+ Open Platform in July 2013. The platform is made up of three parts: a Web App store, an add-on platform, and an Application Bookmark Platform. It became available with the release of UC Browser v9.2 for Android. Developers can use the SDK provided to create programs that the browser can run in various scenarios. Users can get them from the browser’s add-ons panel and install them. Sharing to social media, webpage translation, augmented reality, and voice control are a few examples. The Application Bookmark Platform enables partner websites to display a QR code on UC Browser that users can scan to add the webpage to their bookmarks. This platform was one of the very first in China.
UC Browser download management
The browser allows for simultaneous downloads and includes a download manager, as well as offline reading pages. It allows you to pause and resume downloads. The current version of the download manager includes features that are intended to solve common download problems, such as an intermittent internet connection and mislabeled files. The download process can continue after the app is closed, and it can also resume automatically if it is interrupted. The download manager organizes downloaded files into folders based on their type.
UC Browser is a cloud-based system.
According to UCWeb, the browser’s cloud system tends to fetch data from the closest servers available, making the loading process faster and smoother for users.
Security and privacy The UC Browser
NSA documents leaked The UC Browser
In May 2015, documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden from the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed that UC Browser leaks sensitive data such as international mobile subscriber identities, international mobile station equipment identities, MSISDNs, and Android IDs, MAC addresses, and geolocation and Wi-Fi-related data without encryption. Intelligence agencies used these leaks to track users. According to the documents, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) identified UC Browser as a security flaw. Its widespread use in China, India, and Indonesia made it especially appealing to people with ASD. According to the documents, ASD hacked the UC Browser and infected smartphones with spyware in collaboration with its Five Eyes partners. The ASD has declined to comment on the revelations.
Citizen Lab findings The UC Browser
Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto laboratory, published a report in May 2015 identifying numerous privacy and security issues with both the English and Chinese language editions of the Android version of UC Browser. The transmission of personally identifiable information to various commercial analytics tools, as well as the transmission of user search queries without encryption, were both criticized in the report. They were also able to circumvent UC Browser’s encryption, prompting them to accuse UCWeb of using ineffective encryption systems to transmit personally identifiable subscriber data, mobile device identifiers, and user geolocation data. In May 2016, Alibaba Group provided Citizen Lab with updated versions of UC Browser to test their security fixes for these vulnerabilities. The subsequent Citizen Lab update indicated that not all of the previously identified data leaks and privacy breaches in UC Browser had been fixed.
C-DAC Hyderabad investigation of UC Browser
Following the publication of the Citizen Lab report, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Hyderabad, a scientific research unit within India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), launched a technical investigation into the report’s allegations of “several major privacy and security vulnerabilities that would seriously expose users of UC Browser to surveillance and other privacy violations.” C-DAC discovered that the browser (the second most popular in India) was sending user data to Chinese servers and that it retains control over a user’s device DNS even after the browser is deleted.
Security UC Browser
Doctor Web analysts publicly disclosed in March 2019 that UC Browser and UC Browser Mini for Android were downloading and installing extra modules from the company’s own servers via an unprotected HTTP channel. If an attacker was able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack to deliver a malicious module, browser users were vulnerable to arbitrary remote code execution (but no cases of exploitation were publicly disclosed). Furthermore, this is a violation of Google Play policies, which prohibit Google Play apps from downloading executable code from any source other than Google Play. In June 2020, a new version of its UC browser with updated settings that comply with the store’s security guidelines was added to the Google Play store. UC Browser has Logjam, FREAK, and POODLE vulnerabilities, according to tests conducted by Qualys, a cloud security firm, and High-Tech Bridge, an internet security firm. UC Browser also employs antiquated RC4 cipher cryptography in conjunction with deprecated SSL 3 or even SSL 2 protocols, both of which have numerous security flaws. Arif Khan, an Indian security researcher, reported in May 2019 that the URL address bars on the UC Browser and UC Browser Mini apps were vulnerable to URL spoofing.
UC Browser Market Adoption
From 2012 to 2017, UC Browser gained significant popularity in China, India, and Indonesia, and it still has some traction in China. For the first time in October 2012, UC Browser surpassed Opera in the free Android app download category on Google Play in India. According to Google Zeitgeist 2013, the “Most Searched Mobile Apps” in India were dominated by messaging and browsing apps, with WhatsApp and UC Browser topping the rankings for the most mobile searches in 2013. UC Browser had over 500 million users as of March 2014, primarily in China, India, and Indonesia, and as of 2016, it had more than 100 million monthly active users. According to the app analytics company App Annie, UC Browser was the eighth most downloaded mobile app from 2010 to 2019.
However, according to Stat Counter, an independent web analytics firm, UC Browser has never been the leading browser in China and has never had more than a 20% browser share there. Google Chrome had a 43 percent browser share in March 2021, while UC Browser had an 18 percent share. From October 2013 to June 2017, UC Browser was the leading browser in India, with a 46 percent browser share. Google Chrome had an 85 percent browser share in March 2021, while UC Browser had a 4.3 percent share. From July 2015 to March 2017, UC Browser was the most popular browser in Indonesia, accounting for 51 percent of all browsers. Google Chrome had an 81 percent browser share in March 2021, while UC Browser had a 1.9 percent share. The May 2020 recommendation by India’s National Security Council following the 2020 China–India skirmishes that UC Browser and other Chinese-owned apps be blocked due to cyber-security concerns may have a significant impact on the number of UC Browser users.
UC Browser History
UC Browser was initially released as a J2ME-only application in April 2004. In 2012, the UC Browser logo was changed from a cartoon squirrel to a more abstract and stylized squirrel that is more in line with American designs. UC Web customized its browser for Vodafone’s Indian customers in May 2013. In August 2013, UC Browser partnered with distributor Gameloft to sell its products and provided distribution channels for companies such as App URL Initiative.
In 2013, it also announced a collaboration with Trend Micro, in which the two companies collaborated to provide mobile web safety assessments in the browser.
UC Browser is prohibited in India.
The Government of India banned UC Browser, along with 58 other Chinese apps like TikTok and WeChat, on June 26, 2020, citing data and privacy concerns and claiming that it is a “threat to the sovereignty and integrity” of the country. Many experts believe the move was a retaliation for the 2020 China–India clashes.
UC Browser is prohibited in China.
The browser was removed from several Chinese app stores in March 2021 after a complaint that it was selling misleading medical advertisements when searching for hospitals in the browser. It was still available in the Chinese app store of Apple Inc.