NewsMarch 14, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Pre-installed Mobile Malware Targets Android Users

Security researchers recently identified 36 Android phones with mobile malware pre-installed on the devices. The Check Point Mobile Threat Prevention research team discovered the mobile malware on new phones belonging to a large telecommunications firm and a multinational technology company.

IT managers should already be aware of the continuing risk of malware to Android devices, but the presence of malicious software on new phones represents a fresh danger to users and businesses.

About the Discovery

Check Point researchers suggested that the malware was added somewhere along the supply chain between manufacturing and sale. Six of the malware instances were added to the device read-only memory (ROM) using system privileges. With this installation, it was not possible for users to remove the mobile malware.

Most of the mobile malware took the form of either info-stealers or rough ad networks. The malicious software on the devices is well-known to security specialists, noted BGR. It includes Slocker, a form of mobile ransomware that uses the Tor network to send data back to its creator, and Loki, a malicious bot that displays illegitimate advertisements and steals device information.

Check Point researchers provided a list of malware and affected devices. The list of infected phones is as follows: the Lenovo S90 and A850; Oppo N3 and R7 Plus; Vivo X6 Plus; Asus Zenfone; Xiaomi Mi 4i and Redmi; ZTE x500; Galaxy Note 2, 3, 4, 5, 8.0 and Edge; Galaxy Tab 2 and S2; Galaxy S7, S4 and A5; and the LG G4.

What Does the Mobile Malware Mean for IT Managers?

Security best practices can help protect from this mobile malware. For example, Android users should only download apps from official app stores. However, great guidelines can only go so far — pre-installed software compromises even the most careful users. Enterprise consumers could receive devices that contain backdoors or are rooted, despite the robust policies of an internal security team.

Mobile malware is a growing risk for Android users. Researchers at Palo Alto Networks recently found traces of Windows malware in 132 apps hosted on the Google Play Store. Back in 2015, G-DATA security experts also found that 26 models from well-known manufacturers had pre-installed spyware in the firmware, Infosecurity Magazine noted.

IT managers must continue to be watchful for new risks. Users should implement advanced security measures capable of identifying and blocking any abnormality in a device’s behavior to protect themselves and their organizations.

Share this Article:
Mark Samuels

Tech Journalist

Mark Samuels is an experienced business technology journalist with an outstanding track record in research. He specializes in the role of chief information officers (CIOs) and is adept at helping executives understand the business benefits of complex technologies. Key areas of interest include innovation, digital transformation, cloud computing, mobility, information security, ecommerce and big data. Mark has written articles for national newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times and The Sunday Times. He has also produced features and columns for a range of IT trade publications, such as Computer Weekly, ZDNet, Tech Republic, IT Pro, Channel Pro, CBR and The Register.