How pre-installed adware can cause trouble for mobile users

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New analysis carried out by Kaspersky of attacks on mobile devices has revealed that 14.8 percent of its users who were targeted by malware or adware in 2019 suffered a system partition infection, making the malicious files undeletable.

It also finds that pre-installed default applications have role to play, depending on the brand, the risk of applications that can't be deleted varies from one to five percent in low-cost devices and goes up to 27 percent in extreme cases.

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System partition infections offer a high level of risk for users of infected devices, as a security solution can't access the system directories meaning it can't remove the malicious files. According to Kaspersky researchers, this type of infection is becoming a more common way to install adware. Infection can happen in two ways, the threat gains root access on a device and installs adware in the system partition, or the code for displaying ads gets into the firmware of the device before it even ends up in the hands of the consumer.

Many smartphones have functions providing remote access to the device which, if abused, could lead to a data compromise of a user's device. A few vendors have openly admitted to embedding adware in their smartphones. While some allow it to be disabled, others do not and they describe it as part of their business model to reduce the cost of the device for the end user. Often, the user has little choice between buying the device at the full price, or a little cheaper with lifetime advertising.

"Our analysis demonstrates that mobile users are not only regularly attacked by adware and other threats, but their device may also be at risk even before they purchased it," says Igor Golovin, Kaspersky security researcher. "Customers don't even suspect that they are spending their cash on a pocket-sized billboard. Some mobile device suppliers are focusing on maximizing profits through in-device advertising tools, even if those tools cause inconvenience to the device owners. But this is not a good trend -- both for security and usability. I advise users to look carefully into the model of smartphone they are looking to buy and take these risks into account -- at the end of the day it is often a choice between a cheaper device or a more user-friendly one."

You can read more about the findings on the Kaspersky Securelist blog.

Image Credit: romankosolapov / depositphotos.com

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