Gionee smartphones received malware via app update

A Chinese court has convicted people of a subsidiary of smartphone maker Gionee for placing malware on users’ devices. The malware allowed the manufacturer to collect user data, inject targeted advertisements and thus earn money.

The subsidiary installed a ‘Dark Horse Platform’ from supplier Beijing Baice Technology via an update to the Story Lock Screen app, which is standard on Gionees Android devices. That platform was able to install a Trojan horse without user intervention: malware to gain access. That happened on more than 20 million Gionee phones, CNBeta writes . The trick went through Shenzhen Zhipu Technology, a Gionee subsidiary that is responsible for the software, among other things.

With that Trojan Horse it became possible to successfully pluck data from devices almost three billion times, the site writes, based on court documents. Gionee also served targeted advertisements in this way to users for whom permission was not given and thereby earned money, approximately 3.5 million euros.

A judge has condemned the practice for “unauthorized control over a computer system.” Company executives have been fined and jailed. Dark Horse came to phones via an update in December 2018, the transfer of data took place from April 2019. Gionee had already been declared bankrupt .