An anti-virus company has discovered malware comes pre-installed on Android phones, including on ZTE phones — a Chinese phone company with ties to the Chinese government.
“Thousands of users are affected” by the ad-related malware, or adware, according to Avast, the Czech anti-virus company, in its May 24 blog.
“The adware we analyzed has previously been described by Dr. Web and goes by the name ‘Cosiloon,'” according to Avast. “The adware creates an overlay to display an ad over a webpage within the users’ browser. The adware has been active for at least three years and is difficult to remove, as it is installed on the firmware level and uses strong obfuscation.”
ZTE — the Chinese-based tech company President Donald Trump has been negotiating a new trade deal with after they violated U.S. sanctions on Iran — is one of the phone companies infected with the adware.
China’s telecom giant was subject to a crippling U.S. ban after the company was discovered to have violated North American sanctions by selling products to Iran. The U.S. and China have been renegotiating a trade deal with ZTE. The U.S. is expected to lift the ban after ZTE pays a $1.3 billion fine along with increased security measures, according to Reuters on Friday.
Trump confirmed the deal in a May 25 tweet, saying, “I closed it down then let it reopen with high level security guarantees, change of management and board, must purchase U.S. parts and pay a $1.3 Billion fine.”
Avast is coordinating with Google to ensure firmware developers find permanent solution to the Cosiloon problem, and Google is working to develop internal safeguards for its Play Store.
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