November 15, 2016
Do you own an Android smartphone? You could be one of those 700 Million users whose phone is secretly sending text messages to China every 72 hours.
You heard that right. Over 700 Million Android smartphones contain a secret ‘backdoor’ that surreptitiously sends all your text messages, call log, contact list, location history, and app data to China every 72 hours.
Security researchers from Kryptowire discovered the alleged backdoor hidden in the firmware of many budget Android smartphones sold in the United States, which covertly gathers data on phone owners and sends it to a Chinese server without users knowing.
First reported on by the New York Times on Tuesday, the backdoored firmware software is developed by China-based company Shanghai AdUps Technology, which claims that its software runs updates for more than 700 Million devices worldwide.
Moreover, it is worth noting that AdUps provides its software to much larger handset manufacturers, such as ZTE and Huawei, which sell their Android phones worldwide, across over 150 countries and regions.
Besides sniffing SMS message content, contact lists, call logs, location data and other personal user information and automatically sending them to AdUps every 72 hours, AdUps’ software also has the capability to remotely install and update applications on a smartphone.
The secret backdoor is said to be there intentionally and not accidently or due to a security flaw, although, according to the US authorities, at the moment it is unclear whether the data is being collected for advertising purposes or government surveillance.