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

7/9/2018
12:54 PM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Products and Releases
50%
50%

New Android Smartphones in Developing Markets Sold With Pre-installed Malware

Upstream discovers infected devices for sale across 8 developing markets

LONDON, July 6th, 2018 – Upstream has today revealed that new inexpensive smartphone devices being sold to consumers in developing markets, many of whom are coming online for the first time, contain pre-installed malware, which collects their personal information, depletes their mobile data allowance and triggers fraudulent subscription charges to their pre-paid credit, without their knowledge or consent.

Guy Krief, CEO of Upstream, explains the findings: “Our Secure-D platform has uncovered that a number of cheap smartphones for sale in developing markets, such as Brazil, Egypt, Myanmar and South Africa, are sold with a digital ad fraud malware pre-installed, before the user has even turned the phone on for the first time. It communicates with, and sends unauthorized personal user data to a server in Asia, depletes their data allowance and signs them up to premium subscription services without their consent.”

Smartphone penetration in developing markets is growing rapidly, forecast to reach 62 percent by 2020, and, as a result, broadband connections are also increasing, expected to rise to 88 percent in Brazil by 2020, according to the GSMA Mobile Economy 2017 report. That said, the cost of data in emerging markets remains expensive, relative to local income levels, compared to what holds in developed markets (indicatively, in Brazil, 1GB of data would take the average person 6 hours of work to pay for). Moreover, in emerging markets, where 80 percent of people are unbanked, and most are pre-paid mobile subscribers, carrier billing — a payment method allowing users to purchase digital services by charging payments to their air time balance — is often the only way they can pay for digital services. The combination of these conditions creates an explosive context for the effects pre-installed smartphone malware has on consumers in emerging markets.

Krief added: “This malware is targeting consumers who are often getting online for the first time via their mobile device and have no other way to access the internet. In emerging markets, where online clicks can trigger a purchase and charges to airtime credit, such online advertising fraud directly impacts the end consumer. These users are immediately falling victim to fraudulent activity, which is using their mobile data allowance and taking money from their air time credit. In one month, we observed over 1.3 million fraudulent attempts to purchase a single digital premium service in Brazil alone, the first of the markets where we identified this issue in. A similar pattern was identified by our Secure-D platform in other emerging markets, like Myanmar, Egypt and South Africa.”

Upstream’s carrier-grade platform Secure-D combines machine learning algorithms with payment processing workflows to protect mobile operators and their subscribers against online transaction fraud and data depletion. The Secure-D platform, deployed in 12 markets with 18 mobile operators, processes over 3.3 million transaction requests per day.

Krief commented: “Digital ad fraud is a global phenomenon, responsible for a loss of more than 30 percent of global digital investment. It is mostly about fake impressions and clicks, generated by machines. If left unchecked, digital ad fraud has the potential to hold back the mobile internet revolution in developing markets by eroding customer trust in the entire digital ecosystem. From a business perspective, and morally, protecting the next three billion consumers who are coming online for the first time needs to be a top priority for organizations working in high-growth markets.”

For more information, please visit www.upstreamsystems.com

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/27/2020
6 Ways Passwords Fail Basic Security Tests
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/28/2020
'Act of War' Clause Could Nix Cyber Insurance Payouts
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  10/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How to Measure and Reduce Cybersecurity Risk in Your Organization
In this Tech Digest, we examine the difficult practice of measuring cyber-risk that has long been an elusive target for enterprises. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-27014
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-30
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac 2020 (Consumer) contains a race condition vulnerability in the Web Threat Protection Blocklist component, that if exploited, could allow an attacker to case a kernel panic or crash. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute high-privileged code on the targ...
CVE-2020-27015
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-30
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac 2020 (Consumer) contains an Error Message Information Disclosure vulnerability that if exploited, could allow kernel pointers and debug messages to leak to userland. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute high-privi...
CVE-2020-27885
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability on WSO2 API Manager 3.1.0. By exploiting a Cross-site scripting vulnerability the attacker can hijack a logged-in user’s session by stealing cookies which means that a malicious hacker can change the logged-in user’s pass...
CVE-2020-25646
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
A flaw was found in Ansible Collection community.crypto. openssl_privatekey_info exposes private key in logs. This directly impacts confidentiality
CVE-2020-26205
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
Sal is a multi-tenanted reporting dashboard for Munki with the ability to display information from Facter. In Sal through version 4.1.6 there is an XSS vulnerability on the machine_list view.