Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile

3/13/2017
05:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Enterprises Hit with Malware Preinstalled on their Androids

Check Point details evidence of mobile supply chain problems based on infections on devices at two large organizations.

Reports of a pair of isolated mobile malware outbreaks at two large companies yet again calls into question the security of the Android device supply chain.

The mobile security research team with Check Point Software Technologies found several dozen devices at two unnamed enterprises teaming with malware that came preinstalled out of the box.

While the researchers noted that the apps weren't integrated components of the official ROM firmware developed by the devices' manufacturers, they did confirm that the malicious applications were not downloaded to the device after activation by the user. 

"(They) were added somewhere along the supply chain," wrote Orien Koriat, a researcher with the Check Point Mobile Research Team. " Six of the malware instances were added by a malicious actor to the device’s ROM using system privileges, meaning they couldn’t be removed by the user and the device had to be re-flashed."

The report took a look at 36 infected devices from two large firms, a large telecom and a global technology company. The devices in question had multiple instances of preinstalled malware, including a number of information stealing applications, adware and ransomware. Some notable inclusions were instances of Slocker mobile ransomware and Loki adware, which establishes total persistence on a device through complete device control.  

Pre-installed mobile device malware and built-in backdoors are starting to pop up in the Android device ecosystem with greater regularity and security experts believe that the problem will continue to grow. Most recently, the preinstallation of firmware on budget smartphones from manufacturers like BLU, Infinix, and LEAGOO that allowed for the remote installation of applications without user consent was highlighted by researchers at Kryptowire, Dr. Web and US-CERT. This ADUPS firmware was thoroughly enmeshed at the system level with the device platform and further research from Trustlook estimated that it came pre-installed on 700 million Android devices with the capability to "text messages, phone call histories, and details of how the phone is being used all without the user’s permission," researchers with Trustlook said.

One of the big dangers of pre-installed malicious apps is that bad behavior never looks abnormal to a device user.

"Pre-installed malware compromise the security even of the most careful users," says Koriat. "In addition, a user who receives a device already containing malware will not be able to notice any change in the device’s activity which often occur once a malware is installed." 

According to Michael Patterson, CEO of networks security firm Plixer International, examples like this "shatter" the trust in the mobile device supply chain and "places into question the quality assurance processes that exist today for device manufacturers."

Though enterprises should reasonably expect new electronics to be free of malware from the get-go, they're still on the hook when events like this take place, he explains. This is why it's important to not only lean on device security measures but also a backstop of network monitoring and controls to look for issues like these. He adds that device manufacturers also need to step up their QA game to add greater security assurances before sending devices out the door.

"Based on these findings, device manufacturers should now introduce a final test of devices prior to shipping them to customers," he says. "Although this will certainly impact the cost of manufacturing and delivery, the potential negative impact of a loss of trust for mainstream manufacturers overshadows this cost increase."  

Related Content:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
Unreasonable Security Best Practices vs. Good Risk Management
Jack Freund, Director, Risk Science at RiskLens,  11/13/2019
Breaches Are Inevitable, So Embrace the Chaos
Ariel Zeitlin, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder, Guardicore,  11/13/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19010
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-16
Eval injection in the Math plugin of Limnoria (before 2019.11.09) and Supybot (through 2018-05-09) allows remote unprivileged attackers to disclose information or possibly have unspecified other impact via the calc and icalc IRC commands.
CVE-2019-16761
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
A specially crafted Bitcoin script can cause a discrepancy between the specified SLP consensus rules and the validation result of the [email protected] npm package. An attacker could create a specially crafted Bitcoin script in order to cause a hard-fork from the SLP consensus. All versions >1.0...
CVE-2019-16762
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
A specially crafted Bitcoin script can cause a discrepancy between the specified SLP consensus rules and the validation result of the slpjs npm package. An attacker could create a specially crafted Bitcoin script in order to cause a hard-fork from the SLP consensus. Affected users can upgrade to any...
CVE-2019-13581
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
An issue was discovered in Marvell 88W8688 Wi-Fi firmware before version p52, as used on Tesla Model S/X vehicles manufactured before March 2018, via the Parrot Faurecia Automotive FC6050W module. A heap-based buffer overflow allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service or execute arbitrary ...
CVE-2019-13582
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
An issue was discovered in Marvell 88W8688 Wi-Fi firmware before version p52, as used on Tesla Model S/X vehicles manufactured before March 2018, via the Parrot Faurecia Automotive FC6050W module. A stack overflow could lead to denial of service or arbitrary code execution.