Category Archives: Science and Technology

Chinese Tecno phones with built-in malware that steals users’ data on sale in Africa

Malware which signed users up to subscription services without their permission has been found on thousands of mobiles sold in Africa.

Anti-fraud firm Upstream found the malicious code on 53,000 Tecno handsets, sold in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana and South Africa.

Manufacturer Transsion told Buzzfeed it was installed in the supply chain without its knowledge.

Upstream said it was taking 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 malware found by the firm on the Android smartphones installs malicious code known as xHelper which then finds subscription services and submits fraudulent requests on behalf of users, doing so invisibly and without the user’s knowledge.

If the request is successful, it consumes pre-paid airtime, the only way to pay for digital services in many developing countries.

In total, Upstream found what it described as “suspicious activity” on more than 200,000 Tecno smartphones.

According to research firm IDC, Transsion Holdings is one of China’s leading phone manufacturers and in Africa it is the top-selling mobile manufacturer.

In response Tecno Mobile said that the issue was “an old and solved mobile security issue globally” to which it issued a fix in March 2018.

“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.

It added that it is attached “great importance to consumers’ data security and product safety”.

“Every single software installed on each device runs through a series of rigorous security checks, such as our own security scan platform,” it added.

At the beginning of the year, security firm Malwarebytes warned that similar pre-installed apps were found on another Chinese Android phone – the UMX U686CL. This handset was offered to low-income families in the US via a government scheme.

And in 2016, researcher Ryan Johnson found that more than 700 million Android smartphones had malware installed.

Google, which developed the Android operating system, is aware of the issue.

In a blog written last year it blamed third-party vendors, used by manufacturers to install features such as face unlock, for pre-installing Triada malware.

It said it had worked with manufacturers to remove the threat from devices.

BBC

Aba Automated Shoe Factory, Best In Nigeria – Technical Partner

The Technical Partner of the Aba Automated Shoe Factory, Mr Osaro Ekonweren, has described the Aba Automated Shoe Factory as currently having the most updated shoe producing machines in the country.Mr. Ekonweren said this yesterday in an exclusive interview immediately after the inauguration of the Board of the Company by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.According to the Technical Partner, “we were amazed and impressed by what we saw on ground. Our group has been into shoe production in Nigeria for over a decade now and I must confess that the machines we saw there when we went on inspection cannot be found anywhere in the country. We use machines in our own company but we have is no where near what is at the Aba Shoe Factory”.Mr. Ekonweren said that at present, the factory has an installed capacity for the production of 5000 pairs of shoes every day which translates to about 2 million pairs of shoes annually, with facilities for expansion and assured that they plan to actually expand this capacity within the next one year.He saluted the foresight of Governor Ikpeazu and confirmed that the factory will change the face of shoe production in Nigeria.He said that his organization was selected as Technical Partners for the factory based on a proven and verifiable track record of quality automated shoe production spanning over 10 years. He stated that they make shoes for companies like PEP of South Africa and several others, assuring that the products from the Aba factory will be well received by the markets. According to him, products from this factory will not just be for the local market here but will be sold across West Africa and beyond.He assured that the factory will be run as a professional and commercial outfit with clear opportunities for value addition and job creation.On when actual production will commence at the factory, he assured that they will start test runs in the next two weeks while they will start production by the second week of September. He made it clear that by December this year, shoes from the factory would have gained ground in the local and international markets. He also stated that the factory will also produce other leather works like bags, belts, wallets, etc.Also speaking, the Executive Director, Operations of the Factory, Mr Chinenye Nwaogu said that with the new management structure in place, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has sent a clear message that the factory will be run solely on a basis of professionalism inspired by commercial expediency. He said that the 30 shoe makers who were sent to China by the Governor for training on the use of machines in shoe production will form the initial technical staff of the factory while there will be huge emphasis on training for more operators.Mr Nwaogu said that the apparent delay in the start of production at the factory was because the Governor insisted that a professional organization must be found to run the place and the process took some time, coupled with the pandemic of COVID-19 which shut down the country for about three months.The Governor inaugurated the Board of the Factory yesterday and gave them a clear mandate to raise the bar and cement the place of Abia State as the powerhouse of leather works in Nigeria and West Africa. The Board has Mr. Mark Atasie, a Management Consultant as Chairman.More photos: