Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Infosecurity Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

26 Mobile Phone Models Contain Pre-Installed Spyware

Over 190.3 million people in the US own smartphones, but many do not know exactly what a mobile device can disclose to third parties about its owner. Mobile malware is spiking, and is all too often pre-installed on a user’s device.

Following its findings in 2014 that the Star N9500 smartphone was embedded with extensive espionage functions, G DATA security experts have continued the investigation and found that over 26 models from some well-known manufacturers including Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi, have pre-installed spyware in the firmware.

However, unlike the Star devices, the researchers suspect middlemen to be behind this, modifying the device software to steal user data and inject their own advertising to earn money.

"Over the past year we have seen a significant increase in devices that are equipped with firmware-level spyware and malware out of the box which can take a wide range of unwanted and unknown actions including accessing the Internet, read and send text messages, install apps, access contact lists, obtain location data and more—all which can do detrimental damage,” said Christian Geschkat, G DATA mobile solutions product manager.

Further, the G DATA Q2 2015 Mobile Malware Report shows that there will be over two million new malware apps by the end of the year.

During the second quarter of 2015, researchers saw 6,100 new malware samples every day. By comparison, in the first quarter of 2015, they saw about 4,900 malware apps per day, representing an increase of almost 25% quarter over quarter.

Additionally, the first six months of 2015 has already broken all previous malware records—over a million new Android malware strains (1,000,938) were discovered within just six months. In those six months, the analysts have already discovered almost as many Android malware instances as in the whole of 2013.

“An estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide use a smartphone or tablet to go online. Chatting, surfing and shopping are possible anytime, anywhere thanks to smartphones and tablets. At the same time, the number of mobile malware apps has sharply increased in the past three years," added Geschkat.

In the second half of 2015, G DATA security experts expect yet another significant increase in Android malware instances—in tandem with that malware becoming more refined.

“Hacking Team, an IT company that develops a wide range of malware for intelligence services and governments, suffered a cyber-attack this year,” the report noted. “After this attack, corporate data and source code for an Android malware strain were published. G DATA security experts expect cyber criminals to exploit this easily accessible knowledge base and publish large numbers of more mature Android malware.”

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?