A new smartphone from China is loaded with spyware disguised as a Google Play store, a German security company says.
The affected model “N9500” is produced by the Chinese manufacturer Star and made to look like an Android smartphone produced by a well-known manufacturer.
The spyware runs in the phone’s background and cannot be detected by users.
Unbeknownst to the user, the smartphone sends personal data to a server located in China and is able to covertly install additional applications.
This makes it possible to retrieve personal data, intercept calls and online banking data, read emails and text messages or control the camera and microphone remotely.
“The options with this spy program are nearly unlimited. Online criminals have full access to the smartphone,” says Christian Geschkat, product manager for mobile solutions and G DATA. “G DATA customers reported a detection by our security solution and thus alerted us to this criminal tactic.”
After receiving that tip, G DATA security experts purchased and analyzed the device. They found that the phone contained the Trojan Android.Trojan.Uupay.D, disguised as the Google Play store.
The smartphone is about a third the price of the real model and is loaded with extensive accessories, such as a second battery, car charging adapter and second cover.
“In general, particularly cheap offers online that seem tempting should make buyers suspicious. There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” says Geschkat.