Chinese low-cost cell phones came with a virus that uses the data package and steals money through paid services contracted without the user’s knowledge.
The problem had been happening with the Tecno W2 smartphone, sold mostly in African countries. The devices reached consumers with Triada and xHelper malware installed at the factory, causing problems that could not be solved or even restoring the device to factory defaults.
Cases of infected Tecno W2 have been reported in South Africa, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana, as well as Indonesia and Myanmar in Asia. The smartphone is manufactured by the Chinese company Transsion. The information was released by the Secure-D platform and BuzzFeed News.
Tecno W2 attracts attention due to its low cost. With a price of US $ 30 – which is around R $ 170 -, its target audience is consumers with low purchasing power, which contributed to increase the controversy. The smartphone came from the factory with two malware that downloaded applications silently and subscribed to paid services without user consent. Buyers were faced with unexpected bills and overuse of the data package.
In addition to the problems expected from malware, Triada and xHelper stand out for not being removed when the phone is restored to factory defaults.
According to Secure-D, 844,000 fraudulent transactions were blocked between March and December 2019. The company’s managing director, Geoffrey Cleaves, says that Transsion represents only 4% of user traffic in Africa, but is responsible for more 18% of all suspicious clicks on the continent.
Transsion has assigned responsibility for malicious malware to an unidentified supplier in the supply chain process. She also said she made corrections to Triada in March 2018 and xHelper in late 2019, which does not seem to have worked, as Secure-D guarantees to have blocked the programs until April 2020.