From China to Africa Tecno Devices with Pre-Installed Malware

Pre-Installed Malware

Stealing money from the rich to give to the poor is apparently just a fairytale that everyone wants to believe.

In today’s online world, it’s proven that even the poor are targets of malware that harvest their money without them even knowing about it.

In countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, and South Africa, there are millions of low-income households that just can’t afford high-cost smartphones.

Instead, they settle for cheap Chinese ones that are considered to be affordable. However, what they don’t know is that even though they’re cheap, these devices are costing them a fortune.

According to Secure-D, the anti-fraud platform, malicious software was found pre-installed on low-price smartphones.

It goes by the name of Triada – dangerous malware that eats up mobile data and registers people for unwanted subscriptions.

With over 19.2 million suspicious transactions, this malware has become a major security threat, especially to those who use Tecno W2 smartphones.

So, what is this about and how many individuals have been affected? Find out in the following comprehensive guide.

The Triada Malware – Cheap is Actually Very Pricey

Getting a device for a cheaper price is always tempting, especially when it provides looks and functionalities just like any other device out there.

Transsion, the Chinese company behind Tecno and other low-priced devices, is one of the biggest sellers in what we call “The developing world”.

According to Buzzfeed, a customer bought his Tecno W2 smartphone for 30$ only, stating that he was a fan of Samsung and decided to try something new.

The price was far less than the comparable models from competitors in the country, including Huawei, Samsung, Nokia, and the likes.

Transsion released its first device in 2014, and it paled in comparison to the leading companies in the industry. Now, it has become Africa’s top handset seller, beating out longtime market leaders.

However, as grand as this may sound, the customer started witnessing issues with his new device. Apparently, he got pop-up ads that interrupted most of his calls and chats.

Moreover, he stated that he’d wake up the next day to find his mobile data completely used up and that he received messages about subscriptions he’d never opted for.

Apparently, the problem was that Upstream found malicious code on 200,000 Tecno smartphones, which Transsion stated it had no idea of.

The malware embeds malicious code known as xHelper, which looks for subscription services and submits shady requests on behalf of the users (Without their knowledge).

Once the request is completed, the malware consumes pre-paid airtime – the popular, and maybe the only way to pay for digital services in developing countries.

This is definitely a threat and Upstream’s head of Secure-D platform did state that in the following:

“The fact that the malware arrives pre-installed on handsets that are bought in their millions by typically low-income households tells you everything you need to know about what the industry is currently up against.”

Tecno Mobile did respond to the allegations, as they mentioned that the issue was “an old and solved mobile security issue globally” to which it issued a fix in March 2018.

Apparently, it wasn’t, which forms a future threat to whoever purchases their products.

Final Words

One’s security and privacy are two things that need to be protected all the way when online. Not to mention that devices with pre-installed malware can do a lot of harm in terms of privacy and the consumer’s money.

Not a lot of people have the knowledge to deal with such incidents, which makes them susceptible to several attacks. All they need to do is get themselves some information about how to protect their devices and websites like The VPN Guru have all the guides they need.

It’s serious, and a lot of people are being targeted by such malware. Protect yourself and always take your device’s security seriously.