According to a report by the New York Times, a security firm called Kryptowire has discovered preinstalled software on some Android phones that sent data such as text messages, call logs, contacts, and geo-location to a Chinese server. The developer of the software, Shanghai Adups Technology, says the program runs on more than 700 million devices, from phones, cars, and other hardware. As of now the most affected are international consumers and owners of disposable and prepaid phones, but one Miami-based phone manufacturer, BLU Products, says at least 120,000 of its phones contained the bug, which it has fixed via software update.
Adups apparently designed the backdoor to help an undisclosed Chinese phone manufacturer monitor user behavior, but the program ended up on American phones anyway. The Times points out that Adups lists two China-based largest phone makers, ZTE and Huawei, as distribution partners–both of which have been trying to make inroads in the U.S., and would likely see those efforts scrutinized if either is linked to the backdoor revelation. JJM