Some Chinese smartphones shipped with malware, stole money
Chinese smartphone maker TECNO, known for taking on the likes of budget players in emerging markets, has landed in a major controversy. A report from popular anti-fraud platform Secure-D and BuzzFeed News has revealed that certain smartphones shipped by the company carried malware that worked in the background and covertly stole money from unsuspecting users. Here's all about it.
Two apps on TECNO W2 stole money from users
According to the report in question, TECNO's W2 budget phones were shipped infected with two malware-laced apps - Triada and xHelper. They both worked in the background, showing users annoying pop-ups from time to time as well as downloading apps that would subscribe them to premium services. This eventually caused them to deal with unexpected bills and data overuse.
Phones mainly reached emerging markets
While there is no word on how many units of the malware-laced devices were sold, the phone is primarily believed to have reached multiple emerging markets such as Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Indonesia, and Myanmar. Secure-D claimed that it blocked as many as 844,000 transactions from the pre-installed malware between March and December 2019, and kept blocking the programs until April 2020.
What TECNO has said on the matter
TECNO blamed an unnamed vendor in its supply chain for the malware and said that glitch with Triada was fixed in March 2018 while the one with xHelper was patched in November 2019. It added, "Every single software installed on each device runs through a series of rigorous security checks, such as our own security scan platform, Play Protect, GMS BTS and VirusTotal test."
Company has requested to install OTA patches
"For current W2 consumers that are potentially facing Triada issue now, they are highly recommended to download the OTA fix through their phone for installation, or contact TECNO's after-sales service support for assistance if any questions".
This doesn't make a good case for TECNO
That said, even if the vendor is to be blamed, inadvertently shipping malware-laced phones to middle and low-income nations does not make a good case for TECNO. Several Chinese companies, including TikTok, ZTE, Huawei, are already facing increased scrutiny in different parts of the world over security concerns and such errors could spell trouble for TECNO too.