The Chinese made smartphone, Star N9500, sold for about £120 on eBay and gained attention of users for it’s heavy resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy S4 whilst remaining one third of the price to the heavily branded smartphone. The phrase “too good to be true” can be used in many situations however this is the perfect example, as eBay are now banning them from being listed due to reports that the model is pre-installed with spyware within it’s Chinese factory.
A German security firm reported personal data was being sent from these devices across to computer servers in China, however the Trojan on the device could not be removed. Personal data at risk from using the Star smartphone includes personal details, online banking details, interception of phone calls, reading of texts and emails and the remote use of the phone’s camera and microphone.
The smartphone is so smart, software in place disguises itself as a legitimate Google Play Store application, running the spyware in the background undetected whilst blocking security updates and installing additional malicious applications without permission.
Despite the claims and reports made regarding the device, Amazon still has these items listed however loyal customers have been spamming up the reviews to warn other potential buyers who might fall into the same trap of the spyware scam. The manufacturer is yet to be tracked down, currently deemed as untraceable despite the mass number of listings across different sites which advertise their sale.
This isn’t the first time there has been a spyware scare regarding Chinese devices. A few years ago it was detected that computers shipped from a Chinese factory were loaded with malware, and only last year German firm E-plus discovered computer worms hidden in the SD card of Chinese smartphones.
Despite this shock, these multiple incidents really do show that you get what you pay for and the extra money you pay for a brand name really does give you that peace of mind. Future research is likely to show us what is happening with the information stolen by the Chinese smartphones however until then, we will have to wait.