Malware could be one of the features of your fancy new Android tablet. According to researchers at Avast, this malware isn't just pre-loaded: it's fully baked in.
Some phones and tablets from ZTE, Archos, and myPhone are coming with malware called Cosiloon pre-installed. It's an ad loader, and while it loads ads rather than steals information, it's also impossible to fully eradicate since it's built into the firmware of the infected devices.
There are two "dropper" apps that load ads over Web pages or games. One of the droppers is built into the firmware of the devices while the other is completely integrated into the operating system. Once active, they download ad presentation software that is highly sophisticated and thoroughly obfuscated, making the entire operation impossible to eradicate and very difficult to mitigate.
Avast found the malware on more than 18,000 devices in more than 100 countries. Most of the devices affected are not certified by Google, which is looking into remedies. Google said that as long as the malware is built into the firmware, there's really very little it can do.