Once again Chinese smartphones infected with pre-installed malware

Pierluigi Paganini September 02, 2015

Security experts at G-Data security firm have discovered new cases of Chinese Android mobile devices infected by pre-installed malware.

Security researchers from G DATA have discovered more than two dozen Android mobile phones from different manufacturers already infected by pre-installed malware.

The kits analyzed by the company are commercialized by many manufacturers including Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi.

pre-installed malware Datang fairy artifact

Be aware this doesn’t mean that the popular manufacturers distributed mobile devices with pre-installed devices, instead it is likely that middlemen intentionally modified the firmware to steal user data and inject advertising to realize financial frauds.

The mobile devices run a version of firmware implementing espionage features.

Security experts also speculate that threat actors compromised the supply chain, speculating the involvement of an intelligence agency.

It is not a first time that smartphones come with pre-installed malware, earlier 2015, the security firm Bluebox discovered a preinstalled malware, many malicious apps, and a series of security holes on the Xiaomi Mi 4 smartphone.

In June 2014 security experts at G Data discovered that a popular Chinese Android Smartphone, Star N9500 was commercialized with a pre-installed spyware, meanwhile in April, the Chinese TV station, CCTV, reported some cases of smartphones compromised by pre-installed malware before selling them on to unwitting customers.

In December 2014, researchers from Palo Alto Networks discovered that the software installed on many of Coolpad high-end Android phones includes a CoolReaper backdoor.

The problem of pre-installed malware is serious security issues for end-users and despite the effort of manufacturers threat actors still succeed to compromise devices worldwide.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – pre-installed malware, Android)

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