Low-end smartphones sold to Americans with low-income via a government-subsidized program contain unremovable malware, security firm Malware bytes said today in a report.
The smartphone model is Unimax (UMX) U686CL, a low-end Android-based smartphone made in China and sold by Assurance Wireless, a cell phone service provider part of the Virgin Mobile group.
The telco sells cell phones part of Lifeline, a government program that subsidizes phone service for low-income Americans.
“In late 2019, we saw several complaints in our support system from users with a government-issued phone reporting that some of its pre-installed apps were malicious,” Malwarebytes said in a report published today.
The company said it purchased a UMX U686CL smartphone and analyzed it to confirm the reports it was receiving.
For starters, Malwarebytes said it found that one of the phone’s components, an app named Wireless Update, contained the Adups malware.
The Adups malware was discovered in 2017 by Kryptowire, and it’s a malicious firmware component created by a Chinese company of the same name.