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Xiaomi phones caught using malware-like tactics

Twitter and Reddit users have shared posts of their Xiaomi devices acting strangely: changing the default search engine in browser settings or adding unwanted bookmarks to pages filled with ads.

Security engineer Subhajit Saha complained on X that his Xiaomi phone changed the default search engine to Mintnav, which is known to bombard users with bothersome advertisements, effectively hijacking the Chrome browser.

“Xiaomi just got exposed for *intentionally* putting malware on their phones! The malware is called Mintnav, and it modifies Google Chrome's homepage to take you to a ‘sponsored’ page filled with ads!” he posted on Twitter.

The provided screenshots of browser settings demonstrated that the homepage and search engine were set to websites that seemed to be Xiaomi’s own.

“Every phone on this planet, they have accessed it and their Chrome browsers without any user consent. These Chinese phones are malware, backdoored at the hardware level too. Cheap products are not always good,” added Saha.

Other users confirmed the findings, disappointed to find their phones filled with adware. The issue arises after installing the MIUI 14 (user interface) update, with users angry they could not delete the added bookmark.

One user on X, PabloMK7, also shared that his home page changed to Mintnav without authorization. He got a response from both Xiaomi India and Xiaomi Support teams, both asking to get in touch via direct message.

Some websites, such as Howtoremove.guide, dub Mintnav as a potentially unwanted program, a “browser hijacker” application. While it doesn’t cause direct harm, it may disrupt the browsing experience with advertising and notifications.

Yet, Xiaomi told 91mobiles.com that its Mintnav website is secure, and any speculations about any fraudulent activities are “entirely baseless and misleading.”

“Mintnav is designed to enhance users’ digital experience by providing quick access to trending news and websites tailored to their preferences. Like with other OEMs, all Xiaomi devices also have the proprietary homepage as a default setting,” according to 91mobiles, which shared and cited Xiaomi’s statement.

Users can change the homepage and search engine back to Google or any other. To do that, on Chrome browser, tap on the three dots in the top right corner and open Settings.

To change the search engine, go to Basics, Select Search engine, and choose the preferred service provider.

To change the homepage, return to Settings, then go to Advanced, and select Homepage, where the preferred default home website can be selected or entered.

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