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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid