China cell phone steals users’ data and money

According to a report from BuzzFeed, cheap cell phones manufactured by the Chinese company Transsion Holdings leave the factory with at least two pre-installed malwares, plus a backdoor, which allow the theft of data and money from the owners of the devices.

Transsion markets mid-range smartphones under the Itel brand, and cheap smartphones under the Tecno and Infinix brands, in poor and developing countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. Combining sales of handsets from all these brands, the company appears as the fourth-largest mobile phone maker in the world, just behind Samsung, Huawei and Apple.

Its focus is on the low-cost segment, targeted by users with low purchasing power, and who, in most cases, do not care about security and privacy.

Transsion cell phones leave the factory infected.
Transsion cell phones leave the factory infected.Source: Pixabay/Reproduction

Tech W2 steals users’ data and money

According to Secure-D, which specializes in mobile security, the Tech W2 model leaves the factory infected with two malware: xHelper and Triada. In addition, the device also has a backdoor, which allows the subsequent installation of applications that subscribe to paid services, without the device owners knowing.

One of the owners of a Tech W2 model reported that he bought the device because it was extremely cheap, but noticed high usage of the data allowance, as well as advertisements and subscriptions to services he never authorized.

Secure-D further pointed out that while only 4% of mobile internet traffic in Africa is associated with Transsion phones, they are responsible for 18% of suspicious clicks. In addition, between March and December 2019, the security company intercepted and blocked more than 844,000 transactions linked to malware pre-installed on Transsion devices.

transsion defends

In a statement, Transsion admitted the presence of malware on its devices, but blamed an unidentified supplier in the supply chain for the criminal activity.

The company even released patch patches to eliminate the malware as a factory reset would not resolve the issue.

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