Some budget Android devices may be infected with malicious software that tracks users’ phone calls, text messages, and other data as well and then sends that data to China. The backdoor was identified by the security firm Kryptowire, who claims it is a potentially serious security risk.
Budget Android Smartphones Are Secretly Sending Users’ Data To China
Security experts have discovered that some Android smartphones, particularly the most economical and accessible on the market, monitor text messages of their users and send them to a server based in China every in 72 hours. This includes brands such as Huawei, ZTE and American BLU.
The finding is responsible for the security firm Kryptowire’s expert information, who also assured the New York Times that these devices also track the user’s location data and call logs. The software was written by a Chinese company called Shanghai Adups Technology.
Tom Karygiannis, vice president of product security firm, told the Verge that these are not clear what the purpose of this monitoring software; what they do know is that this is not a security flaw or accidental vulnerability, it is a feature that exists because manufacturers want to be there.
However, the company who is controlling the firmware has finally claimed that it was mistakenly installed on the devices sold in the United States, as these version of the devices were actually created for the Chinese OEM selling devices domestically.
Hence, in a recent press release Kryptowire describe its code and network analysis of the data-harvesting firmware:
“These devices actively transmitted user and device information including the full-body of text messages, contact lists, call history with full telephone numbers, unique device identifiers including the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) and the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The firmware that shipped with the mobile devices and subsequent updates allowed for the remote installation of applications without the users’ consent and, in some versions of the software, the transmission of fine-grained device location information. The firmware could identify specific users and text messages matching remotely defined keywords. The firmware also collected and transmitted information about the use of applications installed on the monitored device, bypassed the Android permission model, executed remote commands with escalated (system) privileges, and was able to remotely reprogram the devices”.
Moreover, the Adups Chinese company claims to have its software installed on over 700 million devices, including the device of ZTE and Huawei brands, in addition to the US company BLU (although only 120,000 units of this brand would be affected). Adups also said that the software is not directed at the American public, or so they say, as we told earlier.
For now, manufacturers have not manifested about it, but this could be a serious case of monitoring domestic through low-end smartphones, such that most people in the world can buy easily.