The popular VLC Media Player app is reportedly said to be banned in India. While the VLC media player app is still available for download on both the Apple App store and Google Play store, the government has blocked access to the official VLC media player website “www.videolan.org”. Having said that, you can still download the media player on Windows devices. Also, if you already have the VLC media player installed on your smartphones or laptops, then you can access it as it is still working fine.
There’s no official information from the government yet as to why access to the VLC website is restricted in India. While all major ISPs like Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone-idea and others are not allowing users in India to access the VLC website, you can still open the website on your phone or laptop using any VPN service.
According to a report by MediaNama, the VLC Media Player was apparently banned around five months ago without any notice either from the government or the VideoLan organisation. As the VLC apps continued to work as usual in India and only access to the website was restricted, the subtle ‘ban’ went unnoticed.
Why Is VLC Media Player Banned in India
Note that the government hasn’t talked about this publicly yet but if reports are to be believed, in April 2022, cybersecurity experts claimed that a hacker group based out of China named as Cicada used VLC Media Player to deliver malware in systems as part of a cyberattack campaign backed by the Chinese government. There’s no official government report yet that talks about the involvement of the Chinese government and these claims are made by cybersecurity experts.
The cyberattack by Cicada is said to be spread across three continents and is aimed at espionage and has targeted numerous groups involved in political, legal, and religious activities, as well as non-government organisations (NGOs). The hacking has been traced to threat actor Cicada, also known as menuPass, Stone Panda, Potassium, APT10 and Red Apollo, that has been active for over 15 years.
Apparently, there is evidence that the threat actor gained access to some of the penetrated networks via a Microsoft Exchange server, implying that the hackers took advantage of a known vulnerability on unpatched devices.
Researchers at Symantec, an arm of American semiconductor manufacturing company Broadcom, discovered that after getting access to the target PC, the attacker used the popular VLC Media Player to install a modified loader on compromised devices.