Many Android devices that are being sold on Amazon are reportedly preloaded with annoying advertising malware and hacked operating systems. Such claims have already been made by several users and security experts.
Blackbox tablets from various brands are being cheaply sold on the online retail website. Many of these Android devices cost as little as $100. These units are often said to be arriving with malware that has been preloaded.
Tens of thousands of devices that have been preloaded with Cloudsota malware are believed to be in circulation. Meanwhile, people are complaining for other reasons, saying that the products are cheap and manufactured poorly. According to Chinese security firm Cheetah Mobile, a total of more than 17,000 of such devices had their antivirus software installed. However, the number without such antivirus software is most likely much higher.
The trojan virus in question is linked to the Android boot image. This image is almost impossible to remove from the phones, making the virus very well protected. The virus is able to install ad applications that cannot be removed, and it can uninstall security software. Furthermore, the virus simply recreates itself, along with the boot image, should it somehow be removed.
Security experts from Cheetah Mobile said, “We have notified companies involved whose products are found with pre-installed trojans, but unfortunately none have responded yet. We assume that the unbranded tablet manufacturers do not pay any attention to user feedback, nor do they have the capability to offer a solution to this problem. When users boot the device, Cloudsota will visit the trojan creator’s server about every 30 minutes in order to obtain operating commands."
Many experts believe that the attackers are located somewhere in China. The malware will change homepages and uninstall applications. Some believe that the attackers are working with app makers, who receive profits whenever people install apps. When the apps get uninstalled, people go to reinstall them, which gives money to the app makers.
Needless to say, that super cheap smartphone deal probably is too good to be true. People are better off buying phones from proven brands, so they don’t get stuck with one that contains troublesome malware. Still, it’s scary that the issue has even come about in the first place.