Cheap Android phone comes shipped with spyware
Trojan masquerades as Google Play app; cannot be removed.
The phone is the N9500 from Chinese manufacturer Star, which appears to be very similar to the popular Samsung S5, but with a much lower price tag. Following reports from customers, G Data researchers decided to purchase the phone and confirmed that it contained the trojan known as Android.Trojan.Uupay.D.
This trojan masquerades as the legitimate Google Play app, making its activities invisible to the phone's user. To make matters worse, as it is part of the firmware, the app cannot be removed from the device. Intercepted data is sent to a server located in China, while the malware also prevents the installation of security updates.
Of course, there is only one sensible piece of advice regarding this phone, which is to avoid it completely. Thankfully, most web stores appear to have stopped selling it.
Another security firm, FireEye, also reported a piece of Android malware that masquerades as the Google Play app. An analysis on the company's blog explains how this malware avoids detection by storing the payload as an encrypted attachment to a seemingly benign application.
This malware also steals data and sends it off to a Chinese server. However, it is unclear whether the two threats are related. Update: G Data's Eddy Willems says he believes they are not related.