Software that eats up mobile data and registers people for unwanted subscriptions has been found pre-installed on thousands of low-cost Chinese smartphones in Africa more than two years after it was first detected – CNN
The Triada malware signs mobile users up to subscription services without their permission and has been discovered on Tecno W2 smartphones in countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa, according to a report published this week in partnership with BuzzFeed.
It sells more affordable handsets than rivals such as Samsung (SSNLF) and Apple (AAPL) under the brand Tecno Mobile.
In a statement to CNN Business, Tecno Mobile said the problem “was an old and solved mobile security issue globally” for which it issued a fix in March 2018.
“The xHelper trojan persists across reboots, app removals and even factory resets, making it extremely difficult to deal with even for experienced professionals, let alone the average mobile user,” Secure-D, which is owned by mobile technology company Upstream, said in a statement.
The company’s investigation found evidence in code and traffic data to link at least one of the xHelper components to fraudulent subscription requests via Transsion’s Tecno W2 handset. No signs of Triada malware were found to affect other mobile phones manufactured by Transsion, Secure-D said.
“We have always attached great importance to consumers’ data security and products safety,” said Tecno Mobile. “Every single software installed on each device runs through a series of rigorous security checks,” it added, noting that security updates are periodically sent to mobile users.