Known for their versatility and ease of use, Android devices have recently been scrutinized for a less than desirable feature – pre-installed malware.
This article explores the disturbing reality that millions of Android TVs and phones may have malware pre-installed, shedding light on the threats involved, how to detect such threats, and the steps you can take to protect your devices.
What is pre-installed malware?
Pre-installed malware, as the name suggests, is malware that is immediately installed on the device. This type of malware is especially sneaky because it bypasses the normal download and installation process that security software would normally run. For Android TVs and phones, this malware can range from bots that click ads to more dangerous software that can steal personal information or even take control of your device.
lastreportIt shows that potentially millions of Android TVs and phones have malware pre-installed. According toCybersecurity company researchTrend Micro could affect as many as 8.9 million phones and an undisclosed number of Android TVs. This alarming number underlines the scale of the problem and the potential risk to unsuspecting users.
How is malware pre-installed?
You might wonder how malware got pre-installed on your device. Here are some scenarios where this is most likely to be understood.
- third party involvement- Malware can be installed on Android devices when Android device manufacturers hire third parties to enhance system images, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. These third parties may be malicious or have insufficient security measures, which may lead to malware installation. (csoonline.com)
- Security measures violated- In some cases, factory-level security may be compromised, allowing malware to be installed on the device. This may be due to the lack of proper security protocols or the use of outdated or insecure software.
- dishonest producers- Some manufacturers may deliberately install malware on their devices to make quick money. This malware usually generates revenue by clicking ads or stealing data.
- cheap equipment- Low-end Android devices seem to be particularly susceptible to pre-installed malware. These devices often have poor security and use third-party app stores that are more likely to contain malicious apps. (pcmag.com)
- pre-installed apps- Some malware may be pre-installed as a legitimate-looking application. These apps often have excessive permissions and can perform various malicious activities, from displaying intrusive advertisements to stealing personal information. (avast.com)
2023: Reports of pre-installed malware in "innocent" apps
According to the Bleeping Computer report, cybercriminals charge up to $5,000 to add malware to apps on Google Play. This suggests that pre-installing malware can be a lucrative business for cybercriminals, further underlining the need for stringent security measures.
dr. WeberReview for January 2023Virus activity on mobile devices indicates an increase in adware Trojan activity, with the Android.HiddenAds Trojan family being particularly widespread. These Trojans are usually distributed as popular and harmless applications, but once installed, they display intrusive advertisements and significantly slow down the device.
ARaport MalwarebytesaIt also indicates that malware is a much bigger threat to Android devices than iOS devices. Malware on Android devices comes in many forms, including adware, ransomware, and Trojans masquerading as innocent apps. These malicious apps can steal personal and financial information and establish a permanent gateway to smartphones, posing a serious threat to businesses.
These reports highlight the fact that pre-installed malware is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. It's not just about the device you buy; this includes the apps you install and the security measures you take to protect your device.
Here are some of the affected apps from the April 2023 Goldoson malware (herefull list):
•L.POINT i L.PAY- 10 million downloads
•brick cleaner- 10 million downloads
•Money manager fees and budgets- 10 million downloads
•GOM playerr - 5 million downloads
•Live Scores, Live Scores- 5 million downloads
•on demand- 5 million downloads
•Compass 9: smart compass- 1 million downloads
•Gaomei Audio- Music, lyrics sync - 1 million downloads
•Lotte World Magic Pass- 1 million downloads
•bouncing brick breaker- 1 million downloads
•infinite piece- 1 million downloads
•Kei song- Beautiful note taking app - 1 million downloads
•About the subway in Korea: Metroid- 1 million downloads
Here's what a Google spokesperson had to say about malware in Google Play apps:
The problem of pre-installed malware on Android devices is not new. Over the years, several high-profile cases have brought this issue to light. Here are some notable examples:
2023: Android TV streaming gadgets
• Another in May 2023known caseIt includes the popular Android TV streaming gadget based on a Chinese chipset.
• Malware has been reported to be pre-installed on these devices causing serious performance and security issues.
• Malware has been discovered to be able to steal personal information and even take control of devices.
• This case highlights the need for strict security measures, even for seemingly innocuous devices such as TV streaming devices.
2022: T95 Android TV Box Malware Incident
• 2022, Canadian Systems Security AdvisorDiscoverThe Android TV T95 purchased from Amazon had persistent, sophisticated malware embedded in the firmware.
• The malware turned out to be similar to 'CopyCat', a sophisticated Android malware first discovered in 2017 by Check Point's mobile threat researchers. The malware was previously seen in an ad campaign that infected 14 million Android devices.
• The T95 Android set-top box is widely sold on major e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and AliExpress, highlighting the potential scale of the problem.
2021: Android mobile events in Germany
• U 2021. god.Found MalwarebytesAuto-installer threat pre-installed on Android mobile devices in Germany.
• Auto-installers have been found to be able to install other applications without user consent, which may lead to further security issues.
• This case shows the importance of keeping your device updated regularly and using reliable security software.
2020: UMX U683CL mobile malware incident
2020, MalwarebytesReport a crimeUMX U683CL headsets offered through Lifeline Assistance had pre-installed malware.
• The malware has been identified as HiddenAds, a type of adware known for displaying intrusive advertisements and potentially stealing user data.
• This case highlights the risks of low-cost equipment and the importance of strict security measures.
2019: Suede botnet
• In 2019, Google Project Zero researcher Maddie Stone discovered a botnet called Chamois for texting and advertising scams.
• This botnet affected millions of devices, causing chaos and leading to massive investigations.
• salaryAntelope botnetIts uniqueness lies in the fact that it is not only pre-installed on the device, but can also be distributed to other devices.
• This case study highlights the potential scope and impact of pre-installed malware.
2018: Cheap Android smartphones
•Cheap Android devicesIt has been found several times with malware pre-installed.
• These devices, often made in China, are particularly vulnerable due to poor security measures and the use of third-party app stores.
• Malware detected on these devices included both adware and more dangerous software that can steal personal information.
• This case highlights the risks of low-cost equipment and the importance of purchasing from reputable manufacturers.
2017: Explosion of Android malware
• In 2017, there was a serious incidentreportSeveral lines of Android devices have been found to have malware pre-installed.
• Affected devices come from different manufacturers, highlighting how widespread the problem is.
• The malware in question is primarily adware that displays intrusive pop-up ads and significantly slows down your device.
• The incident led to increased scrutiny of Android device manufacturers and their security practices.
These case studies are a stark reminder of the potential dangers of pre-installed malware on Android devices. They stressed the importance of being careful, updating your device regularly, and using reliable security software.
What happens when your mobile device is infected with malware?
The effects of pre-installing malware on a mobile device can range from mildly annoying to seriously harmful. It is harmful to say the least, leading to poor user experience, constant ads and poor performance.
In the worst case, this can lead to serious security breaches, resulting in the theft of personal data or inoperable devices.
"The infection turns these devices into mobile proxies, tools to steal and sell text messages, social media accounts and online messages, and to monetize ads and clicks"say a cyber security companytrend micro.This type of malware can cause significant loss of personal information and privacy.
Neki malwarePenetrate system appsmaking it difficult to remove them without affecting the functionality of the device. This type of malware can cause a significant deterioration in device performance and user experience.
In 2019, Maddie Stone, a Google Project Zero researcher, discovered texting andAn advertising scam botnet called Chamoisthat affected millions of devices. This botnet can generate ad scams, install background apps, download plug-ins and even hijack devices.
There is also malware that allows Android devices to communicate with command and control center servers via a backdoor. This type of malware can cause serious security breaches that can lead to the theft of personal information or remote control of devices.
A look at the global impact of the latest malware from May 2023
According to Trend Micro, the major cybercriminal group Lemon Group (now renamed Durian Cloud SMS) previously claimed on its website that it controlled nearly 9 million devices in 180 countries.
The most affected countries are the United States, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia.
How to detect pre-installed malware?
Identifying pre-installed malware can be difficult, especially since it often runs in the background without the user's knowledge. However, you can use several signs and methods to detect potential malware on Android devices:
- Battery over discharge- Malware often consumes a lot of battery power, causing it to drain faster than usual.
- misuse of data- If you notice a sudden increase in data usage, it may be that malware is running in the background.
- Frequent, inexplicable pop-up ads- Frequent pop-up ads with no identifiable origin can be a sign of adware (a type of malware).
- Using security apps- Security apps like Malwarebytes, Norton, Lookout or Bitdefender can scan your device for viruses and malware.
- Set up a proxy server to view network traffic- This method can help you detect if your Android device is communicating with suspicious servers, which is a potential sign of malware.
- Check device performance- If your device is running slower than usual or crashes frequently, malware may be the cause.
- Enjoy built-in security features- Some Android devices have built-in security features that can help detect malware. For example, Samsung Smart Manager can check for malware or viruses.
- Check installed apps- Check your installed apps for something you don't recognize. Malware is often disguised as legitimate apps.
at the end
The problem of pre-installed malware on Android TVs and phones is serious and potentially affects millions of devices around the world.
But by understanding the risks, recognizing the signs of infection, and taking proactive steps to protect your device, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable Android experience.
tenGroup of Geological KnotsWe hope this article will not only help you understand the potential risks, but also put you in control of the security of your device.
For safe internet browsing, Geonode offers high-quality mobile proxies for anonymous browsing, access to geo-restricted content, and web browsing.
How do I know if my Android phone has malware or virus? ›
On your Android phone or tablet, open a web browser, like Chrome. Go to myaccount.google.com/security-checkup.How do I get rid of malware on my Android? ›
- Power off the phone and reboot in safe mode. Press the power button to access the Power Off options. ...
- Uninstall the suspicious app. ...
- Look for other apps you think may be infected. ...
- Install a robust mobile security app on your phone.
- Joker Spyware.
- Harly Trojan.
- Android Police Virus.
- BlackRock Malware.
Android is more often targeted by hackers, too, because the operating system powers so many mobile devices today. The global popularity of the Android operating system makes it a more attractive target for cybercriminals. Android devices, then, are more at risk of the malware and viruses that these criminals unleash.Does factory reset remove malware? ›
If you've had a malware attack on your device, you may want to consider performing a factory reset. This hard reset will wipe out the device data. When that happens, the dangerous viruses get deleted. A hard reset will also clear out unnecessary clutter on your phone.What does malware look like on Android? ›
Signs of malware on Android
Your phone tends to overheat. The battery drains faster than usual. Pop-up ads frequently appear. You encounter unusual ads that are sometimes 'too personal'
The short answer is yes, in most cases. Viruses are typically embedded in malicious files or apps on your phone, and since a factory reset removes all of your files it will often remove the offending virus or malware, too.How do I scan my phone for virus malware? ›
The best way to check for malware on your phone is to use a mobile security app like free AVG Antivirus for Android. Run a scan. After installing AVG Antivirus, open the app and run an antivirus scan to find malware hidden in your device's system.Can malware go undetected on Android? ›
Most online threats are some form of malware. Malware can take many forms, including viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, and spyware. Can malware be undetected? Yes, malware can hide itself and antivirus and other protection programs may not catch it.What Android apps should be deleted? ›
- Pre-Installed Bloatware Apps. ...
- Old Utility Apps That Are Now Built-In. ...
- Outdated Productivity Apps. ...
- Performance Booster Apps. ...
- Duplicate Apps That Perform the Same Functions. ...
- Overly Engaging Social Media Apps. ...
- Old Games You No Longer Play. ...
- Apps You No Longer Use.
What are spy apps disguised as on Android? ›
If you do not recognize a downloaded service in the Accessibility options, you may want to remove it. Many of the stalkerware apps are disguised as plain apps called “Accessibility” or “Device Health.”What is the new Android virus? ›
Conclusion. Based on our analysis, Chameleon Banking Trojan can pose a threat to Android users. The malware has been operational since January 2023 and currently possesses the basic functionalities of a Banking Trojan.Is it possible for new phones to come pre installed with malware? ›
To date, there have never been reports of higher-end Android devices coming with malware preinstalled. There are similarly no such reports for iPhones.Does turning off phone stop malware? ›
Restart Your iPhone
However, simply turning off your phone isn't a long-term solution because many viruses may resume their malicious activity once you turn it back on. However, it can buy you time to restore a backup.
According to an estimate by an anti-virus company, more than 4 percent of Android devices are infected by malware. A group of academic researchers from the US says that less than 0.0009 per cent of smartphones in the US is infected by malware.How do I know if my phone is infected with malware? ›
- Slow performance. ...
- Random reboots. ...
- Strange text messages. ...
- Overheating. ...
- Unusually high data usage. ...
- Unfamiliar apps in the device app list. ...
- Battery draining fast. ...
- Taking a long time to shut down.
Performing a factory reset is the best way to get rid of viruses, spyware, and other malware. A factory reset will delete everything that wasn't originally installed on the device. This includes any viruses that infected your operating system and files.What removes malware? ›
Windows Security is a powerful scanning tool that finds and removes malware from your PC. Here's how to use it in Windows 10 to scan your PC. Important: Before you use Windows Defender Offline, make sure to save any open files and close apps and programs.Can viruses stay after factory reset? ›
Running a factory reset, also referred to as a Windows Reset or reformat and reinstall, will destroy all data stored on the computer's hard drive and all but the most complex viruses with it. Viruses can't damage the computer itself and factory resets clear out where viruses hide.Will a factory reset get rid of hackers? ›
Yes, you should be able to remove a hacker by doing a factory reset on your phone. Keep in mind that this solution will remove all of your data, including contacts, third-party apps, photos, and other files. You will need to set up your phone entirely from scratch.
Can a virus exist after factory reset? ›
A factory reset will remove most common viruses and other forms of malware. Specialized viruses and malware that can survive a factory reset exist, but they're quite rare.Can malware spy on your phone? ›
Mobile spyware can track your geographical location, your call logs, contact lists and even photos taken on your camera phone. Sound recording and video spyware can use your device to record your conversations and send the information to a third party.Does my phone have a built in virus scanner? ›
What You Should Do to Stay Safe. Your phone already has antivirus protection built-in. Your first line of defense is simply to not mess around with Android's default security settings.How do I manually scan for malware? ›
- Click on Start.
- Click on Settings.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Windows Security.
- Click on Virus & Threat Protection.
- Under Current Threats, select Quick Scan/Threat History.
- Hit Scan Now.
How can I check if my phone has a virus? You may have an inkling that a virus is housed inside your phone, but the only way to be sure is to check. An easy way to do this is by downloading a trustworthy antivirus app. The McAfee Mobile Security app scans for threats regularly and blocks them in real time.How do I know if my phone has been infected with malware? ›
A possible indication of spyware operating on a phone is constant slowing down or lagging. The slow performance of a phone could result from resource-intensive spyware constantly running in the background. Check the suspicious phone for unfamiliar apps and scanning any hidden apps using an antivirus program.How do you clean your phone from viruses? ›
- Step 1: Clear your cache and downloads. ...
- Step 2: Reboot in safe mode. ...
- Step 3: Connect to a different network or change your connection method. ...
- Step 4: Change your Google password. ...
- Step 5: Change your passwords. ...
- Step 6: Identify and uninstall any suspicious apps.
- Click on Start.
- Click on Settings.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Choose Windows Security.
- Click on Virus & Threat Protection.
- Choose Current Threats.
- Click on Scan Options/Threat History.
- Run a new Advanced Scan.