TECNO Smartphones Sold in Africa Found To Have Built-In Malware


A new report from anti-fraud firm Upstream came out stating that a lot of Africans that use Chines smartphones could or might have already fallen victim to a malware scam.

Upstream claims that they found a malicious code dubbed Triada on 53,000 TECNO smartphones. Unfortunately, these handsets were already sold in various countries including Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana.

This was also reiterated by TECNO‘s parent company Transsion who told Buzzfeed it was installed in the supply chain without its knowledge. Upstream added on that the malware was used to take advantage of the “most vulnerable”.

“The fact that the malware arrives pre-installed on handsets that are bought in their millions by typically low-income households tells you everything you need to know about what the industry is currently up against,” said Geoffrey Cleaves, head of Upstream’s Secure-D platform.

The Triada software has been classified as a Trojan that was found to install harmful code known as xHelper. This is then used to find subscription services and submit fraudulent requests on behalf of users, doing so invisibly and without the user’s knowledge.

Once the request is successful, it gets to consume pre-paid airtime that is the only way to pay for digital services in many developing countries.

According to Upstream, the “suspicious activity” might have found its way in more than 200,000 TECNO smartphones.

This could be seen as a blow to Transsion that happens to be one of the top-selling smartphone manufacturers in the continent. This is considering that the malware is suspected to have been installed right under the company’s nose.

“For current W2 consumers that are potentially facing Triada issues now, they are highly recommended to download the over-the-air fix through their phone for installation or contact TECNO’s after-sales service support for assistance in any questions,” the firm told the BBC in a statement.

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