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Android Phones Provided by A Federal Program and Malware

Lifeline is a program under the Federal Communication Commission. The purpose of this program is to make communication more affordable for low-income consumers. As part of the program, customers receive budget Android devices UMX U686CL.

However, these Android phones may cause problems for customers. Malwarebytes Labs found Chinese malware pre-installed on the phones. Specifically, two pieces of pre-installed malware were found on the phone. Based on the information, the malware installed on the phones comes from China. 

Moreover, one of them, called Wireless Update, had unrestricted privileges. As a result, this piece of malware can install applications without user consent.

The Chinese company that developed Wireless Update was previously caught collecting user data with backdoors for auto-installers. The company called Adups was behind the 2016 Android breach that prompted the U.S. officials to investigate that issue.

Another piece of malware is even more dangerous. The phone could become useless as soon as the malware is removed from the phone. Moreover, a trojan called Hidden Ads used to display ads even when the user was using other applications.

Also, the source code of Hidden Ads was in Chinese characters. Thus, it was harder to understand its purpose.

Android Phones and U.S. authorities

A subsidiary of Virgin Mobile, Assurance Wireless is selling this device. The price of this budget phone that works on the Android operating system is $35. It includes free calls, texts, and data.

Based on the information, initial testing didn’t reveal any malicious software. Nonetheless, the Federal Communication Commission keeps in touch with its manufacturer Unimax.

Two Senators from Democratic Party Richard Blumenthal and Ron Wyden addressed this issue. According to U.S. lawmakers, mobile carriers and smartphone manufacturers shouldn’t sacrifice quality to put devices on the market. They asked the CEO of Sprint Michael Combes to learn more about the problem.

The mobile carrier should cope with the issues regarding safety and should take measures to identify phones with such problems. Moreover, the carrier should replace the phones to solve this issue.

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