IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Android smartphones found with pre-installed malware

Enterprise devices arrived 'already infected with adnets and ransomware'

A red Android mascot

Certain devices from some of the largest Android smartphone manufacturers have been discovered carrying severe malware infections that were manually implanted at some point during their supply chain process, according to an investigation.

Although malware is something normally associated with users accidently downloading malicious files, it appears compromising apps were added to specific devices during their build, and were not part of the official ROM.

Thiry-eight smartphones manufactured by Samsung, Lenovo, LG, Asus, Vivo, Oppo, ZTE and Xiaomi were identified as being affected.

The Android devices, belonging to an unnamed telecommunications company and a multinational technology company, were spotted carrying the malicious apps, which were added at an unknown point during the supply chain, according to research by Check Point Mobile Threat Prevention.

Researchers identified six instances of malware infection that were deliberately added by a "malicious actor" to the device's ROM using escalated system privileges, meaning the apps could only be removed by a device re-flash, a complex process of restoring it to factory settings.

"As a general rule, users should avoid risky websites and download apps only from the official and trusted app stores. However, following these guidelines is not enough to ensure their security," said cyber analyst Oren Koriat, speaking in a Check Point Mobile Research blog.

The pre-installed malware was mostly designed to steal information, but included a mobile ransomware called Slocker, which uses an algorithm to encrypt every file on a device and then demand a ransom in exchange for a decrypt key.

A malicious adnet was also discovered in six mobile devices, specifically a malware called Loki that uses multiple layers of functions to achieve its goal. The malware displays illegitimate ads to users as a means of generating revenue, while stealing device data in the process.

"Pre-installed malware compromise the security even of the most careful users. A user who receives a device already containing malware will not be able to notice any change in the device's activity which often occur once a malware is installed," added Koriat. "To protect themselves from regular and pre-installed malware, users should implement advanced security measures capable of identifying and blocking any abnormality in the device's behavior."

Below is a full list of the devices discovered with pre-installed malicious apps. IT Pro has contacted all the vendors for comment.

Malware

Device

com.fone.player1Galaxy Note 2, LG G4
com.lu.compassGalaxy S7, S4
com.kandian.hdtogoappGalaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note 8
com.sds.android.ttpodGalaxy Note 2, Xiaomi Mi 4i
com.baycode.mopGalaxy A5
com.kandian.hdtogoappGalaxy S4
com.iflytek.ringdiyclientZTE x500
com.android.deketvGalaxy A5
com.changbaGalaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Note 4
com.example.loaderGalaxy Tab 2
com.armorforandroid.securityGalaxy Tab 2
com.android.ys.servicesOppo N3, Vivo X6 plus
com.mobogenie.daemonGalaxy S4
com.google.googlesearchAsus Zenfone 2, Lenovo S90
com.skymobi.mopoplay.appstoreLenovoS90
com.example.loaderOppo R7 plus
com.yongfu.wenjianjiaguanliXiaomi Redmi
air.fyzb3Galaxy Note 4
com.ddev.downloader.v2Galaxy Note 5
com.mojang.minecraftpeGalaxy Note Edge
com.androidhelper.sdkLenovo A850
Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Hackers could use new Wslink malware in highly targeted cyber attacks
malware

Hackers could use new Wslink malware in highly targeted cyber attacks

1 Nov 2021
FBI raids Chinese POS business following cyber attack claims
malware

FBI raids Chinese POS business following cyber attack claims

27 Oct 2021
Malware developers create malformed code signatures to avoid detection
malware

Malware developers create malformed code signatures to avoid detection

24 Sep 2021
New malware uses search engine ads to target pirate gamers
malware

New malware uses search engine ads to target pirate gamers

21 Jul 2021

Most Popular

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022
IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years
Policy & legislation

IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years

16 May 2022