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In developing countries, consumers don’t have much choice but to buy the most affordable smartphone. As long as the camera is good and it works well, that is fine with them. It’s unfair, however, that they have to bear with malware that persistently pushes advertisements on them.
According to Kaspersky Lab’s blog post, cheap Android phones are not only preinstalled with unwanted apps but malware as well.
The blog post also said that “relatively big developers such as ZTE, Archos, Prestigio, and myPhone” install preloaded Trojans that gives access to cybercriminals to overlay advertisements over the operating system. It also included BLU smartphones and OnePlus and said the brands’ phones were “preloaded with spying software that was collecting sensitive personal data and sending it to the manufacturer’s servers.”
Android is an open platform compared to Apple’s iOS. Open platform meaning developers and manufacturers can do some modification in accordance with their specifications from the core software that Google developed. Many brands running on the Android platform preinstall their own apps with no option for users to delete or uninstall it. This practice also lessens the phone storage, again, without the ordinary consumer knowing.
Kaspersky’s blog post also said that there are instances where manufacturers can fill the system/app folders with malware to track the users’ online usage and push for ads. Annoying ads can be tolerated but harvesting personal data and selling them to a third party is another matter.
It cannot be avoided that cheap smartphones are popular especially if they offer the same features as the more expensive brands. Sometimes, it’s useful to stop and ask why is it cheaper than the other brands. Kaspersky advises consumers to do their research. There are online forums where people discuss their frustrations about certain brands. Chances are, there would be topics about unwanted pop-up ads. Consider it a red flag.
Google developed the Android software and all manufacturers need a certification from the tech company. Consumers must make sure that the smartphone brand carries a certification that the firmware or the permanent software programmed into a read-only memory, has been tested by Google. While it is not a guarantee, it is less likely to be infected with malware.
Users often neglect to install anti-virus software on their phones. Some thought that AVs are only for computers or laptops. Mobile devices must also have AV so it can warn and protect users of any malicious program.
Kaspersky said that it is likely that cheap smartphones come with malware and there is no way for consumers to know it until they use the phone. It is better to be protected in the beginning to minimize the attacks on the phone.