An Android phone made in China comes with an unusual and unwanted extra feature: malware. The Star N9500 comes from the factory with the Uupay.D trojan acting as the Google Play Store. The trojan will collect and copy personal information, and the microphone will broadcast your phone calls as well as conversations you have near the phone, to unwanted listeners. Text messages will be sent to premium services.
The hook is that the device is available for as low as 160€ ($217 USD). But that price is subsidized by all of the illegal activities that someone is getting to enjoy. One security researcher from Kaspersky sums up the Star N9500 by saying that "the device comes from the factory with an extensive espionage program
Normally, malware isn't included with a new phone out of the box. Hopefully this doesn't become a new trend. If you limit your hardware purchases to handsets manufactured by the major smartphone producers, the odds favor that your malware concerns will come from third party app stores. Earlier this year, we passed along the results of a report that claimed that Android was the target of a whopping 97% of malware attacks last year
We happened to find the phone available on eBay, priced at £119.00 ($202 USD). 55 units had already been sold. For the sake of those who purchased the device, let's hope that they read this story before too much personal information is stolen.
Thanks for the tip, Niels!