News / Science & Technology

Chinese Android Phone Shipped with Spyware

An analyst from German security firm G DATA holds a Star N9500 smartphone. (G DATA)
An analyst from German security firm G DATA holds a Star N9500 smartphone. (G DATA)

Related Articles

Indonesian Smartphone Usage Surges but Still Lags

Survey shows one in four people in country own mobile devices

Amazon Unveils $200 ‘Fire’ Smartphone

Device can show 3-D images plus recognize music and TV shows; stock price rises on announcement of product release

Apps Let Parents Control Children's Usage of Electronic Devices

'DinnerTime Parental Control' app allows parents to pause activity on child's Android smartphone or tablet so that they can focus on things like homework, exercise and family time
That cheap smartphone you may have purchased may come preloaded with an unwelcome app – one that can turn your phone into a sophisticated spying device.
 
German researchers say they found that the Star N9500 Android smartphone, which is a knockoff of the popular Samsung Galaxy S4, is infected with spyware capable of retrieving personal data, intercepting calls and text messages, and having its camera and microphone operated remotely. Someone with control of the phone could also install other nefarious applications.
 
According to German security firm G DATA, which discovered the malware, personal information collected by the phone is then sent back “to a server located in China and is able to covertly install additional applications.”
 
The infection is so bad that large online retailers like eBay and Amazon removed the phone from their inventories though when VOA last checked, Amazon was still selling another Star model smartphone.
 
“Due to reports that some Star N9500 smartphones are loaded with spyware, eBay is not allowing the sale of these devices as a precautionary measure,” a spokesman for eBay said in an email.
 
G DATA first became aware of the spyware after receiving tips from owners.
 
One of the first red flags was that the manuals included with the phone had no information about how to contact the company, said Thorsten Urbanski, a spokesman for G DATA.
 
Urbanski added that in China, vendors must have website for customer support.
 
“They don’t have one,” he said. “It’s very strange.”
 
A deeper analysis revealed that the phones’ parts included no information about the manufacturer and many of the serial numbers were peculiar, according to Urbanski.
 
They then analyzed the phone’s firmware and discovered malware called Android.Trojan.Uupay.D, which was disguised as an app in the Google Play store.
 
According to G DATA, the “spy function is invisible to the user and cannot be deactivated.” Furthermore, the program blocks the installation of security updates.
 
Urbanski said one of the alarming aspects of the phone is the number sold, which is hard to tell. The price for the phone ranges from $177 to $225, considerably less than one would pay for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
 
“It seems to be one of the best-selling low-cost smartphones,” he said.

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone. Android phones attract 98 percent of mobile phone malware, according to Internet security firm Kaspersky.

While the Star N9500 is currently the focus of attention, Urbanski said G DATA was in the process of analyzing other Star phones as well as other brands to see if they have the same firmware infection. He added that Samsung phones as well as Chinese Huawei phones did not appear to be compromised.

Cyber security expert Christopher Burgess, CEO of Prevendra, Inc., an Internet security firm, said if the phones are counterfeit copies of the Samsung phone “one should not be surprised that counterfeit hardware comes pre-loaded with ‘value added features’ which enhance the profitability for the counterfeit manufacturer.”

“It is a bit of karma for those who support the supply chain of counterfeit goods, and drives home the point, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid