New government issued android freephones (obamaphone) comes w/ permanent backdoor installed.

Pagan_Ranger

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1_rick

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The MB article's interesting because of the additional detail: the malware isn't technically uninstallable. The problem is that it's embedded in the Settings app, so if you kill it, the article says you've got a brick. I suspect the more accurate description is "you can't change any settings".

Samsung's got a similar thing going on right now with some report-to-china stuff embedded in the Device Care settings module. You can disable that, and on reboot the Device Care section disappears from Settings.

I bet that you could do the same thing with this UMX phone, as long as you were willing to not have a Settings app. Presumably you could turn it back on later if you needed to mess with settings. Whether it's worthwhile or not is another matter.
 

Jagger100

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Yea the malware bytes article was interesting. This isn't limited to US phones and seems to be something prolific from the phones from this manufacturer.
Still begs to question who really put this in. The Alphabet Companies or the Chinese or both?
 

GoodBoy

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OP, you should fix your title to
"New government funded android freephones comes w/ permanent backdoor installed"

Not a political forum as Kyle mentioned, the obamaphone comment makes it such.


..Forbes seems to cater to "what someone can read in 2 minutes or less". Lazy journalism.
You used Forbes and Journalism together. Lol.

Thanks for this. Information that is useful.

From the Malewarebytes article, some of the malware can be uninstalled, but the Settings app also has a backdoor and they believe that uninstalling that will brick the phone.

Sounds like a job for XDA-Devs... build a new vanilla Android ROM for the device and figure out how to rootkit it. From the MB article they said it was a decent phone aside from the backdoor.
 

techie81

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It was and is commonly referred to as the obamaphone in the U.S. so its not a political statement.

You can discuss tech without talking about politics, although, probably very difficult for most people.

Sprint - Check. backdoor - Check, free is never free and I would never use a Sprint product, even for free.
 

tempertantrum

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It was and is commonly referred to as the obamaphone in the U.S. so its not a political statement.

You can discuss tech without talking about politics, although, probably very difficult for most people.

Sprint - Check. backdoor - Check, free is never free and I would never use a Sprint product, even for free.
"Government issued" check. "Free," check. All these things are politically charged. I feel like this kind of attitude, and the very idea that you can have a non-political or truly neutral stance, is what leads to an incredible amount of bias in those policies in the first place. There's so many hidden assumptions and biases just in the language we use in general, let alone in programs or policies.
 

Azrak

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From the Malwarebytes article:
It’s with great frustration that I must write about another unremovable pre-installed app found on the UMX U683CL phone: the mobile device’s own Settings app functions as a heavily-obfuscated malware we detect as Android/Trojan.Dropper.Agent.UMX. Because the app serves as the dashboard from which settings are changed, removing it would leave the device unusable.
The phone is literally made of malware. In China We Trust.
 

IcePickFreak

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It would be nice if this was a complete article and had any actual information; such as the type of malware, what it does, etc. Even a link to Malwarebytes for more information would be helpful. Forbes seems to cater to "what someone can read in 2 minutes or less". Lazy journalism.

Link to Malwarebytes for actual information:
https://blog.malwarebytes.com/android/2020/01/united-states-government-funded-phones-come-pre-installed-with-unremovable-malware/
To be fair, most people "tl;dr" on anything that takes more than 10 seconds to read. Which is why the internet is filled with arguments based solely on article (and thread) titles.
 

Verado

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I just gave up and flew to china and bought a phone there. Still working great after two years. Enjoy the dickpix china.
 

YeuEmMaiMai

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and peeps thought it was free...lol that is a lot of privacy given up for "free"
 

Aurelius

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Wish people would stop ascribing the worst intents to companies without having evidence of that intent.

No, Assurance Wireless probably wasn't knowingly seeding customers with compromised phones to allow spying on them. It's not even clear that the phone manufacturer knew there was malware (as Malwarebytes noted), let alone that it was deliberately planted to feed data to China.

All we know is that the phones have an impossible-to-remove trojan. Don't buy that phone and urge Assurance Wireless to replace it with something more secure; that's all that really matters.
 

Krazy925

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All the people whining about calling it an obamaphone I hope you call it the affordable care act and not obamacare.

Big surprise the government gives you free stuff and it spies on you. That’s par for the course no matter who the administration is. I’d be surprised if the info isn’t captured by our government and not the Chinese (could be both).
 

notarat

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Wish people would stop ascribing the worst intents to companies without having evidence of that intent.

<snip> Don't buy that phone<snip>.

Don't buy a free phone...

Good advice that's not just applicable here. ;)
 

Bankie

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I imagine that things like this are in other phones and just haven't been discovered yet. It does make me wonder how rooting affects this because on one hand the root devs may be able to remove such malware but on the other they may insert it.


All the people whining about calling it an obamaphone I hope you call it the affordable care act and not obamacare.

Big surprise the government gives you free stuff and it spies on you. That’s par for the course no matter who the administration is. I’d be surprised if the info isn’t captured by our government and not the Chinese (could be both).
The "Obamaphone" is just an extension of the Lifeline Program that was implemented in 84/85; during Reagan's administration. It wasn't called a Reaganphone... The only reason it became Obamaphone was so the GOP could whip their supporters into a frenzy. So yes it is 100% political. And I call it ACA when I'm talking to anyone that I know is not a true believer Republican as again, it's a name that was created to scare their fan base.

The Lifeline program originated in 1984, during the administration of Ronald Reagan; it was expanded in 1996, during the administration of Bill Clinton; and its first cellular provider service (SafeLink Wireless) was launched by TracFone in 2008, during the administration of George W. Bush.

I agree completely with your second line.
 
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Jagger100

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OP, you should fix your title to
"New government funded android freephones comes w/ permanent backdoor installed"

Not a political forum as Kyle mentioned, the obamaphone comment makes it such.




You used Forbes and Journalism together. Lol.



Thanks for this. Information that is useful.

From the Malewarebytes article, some of the malware can be uninstalled, but the Settings app also has a backdoor and they believe that uninstalling that will brick the phone.

Sounds like a job for XDA-Devs... build a new vanilla Android ROM for the device and figure out how to rootkit it. From the MB article they said it was a decent phone aside from the backdoor.
You used Journalism. LoL.
 

Jon855

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I can speak volumes related to this issue as I work at Oregon PUC and we do administer the Lifeline program here in Oregon...

Yeah...

I'll see what I can share...(after work most likely)
 

1_rick

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Are these free phones any better than the typical $20-50 Android phone you'd find on the shelves sold by Tracphone and other MVNOs?
 

N4CR

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Hahaha! Almost everyone ignores the fact that practically every phone in operation has a glaring backdoor called a baseband modem, that you strangely never hear about. Yes, keep focusing on the software people, it's all that runs on your devices ;)
 

prime2515102

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The title of this thread is completely inaccurate and is, frankly, clickbait (so is the title of the article but not nearly as bad). If I were an admin I would change the title.

Those phones are not "government issued." They're not even funded by the government. It is prohibited, by law, to use funds from the Lifeline program to pay for them.
 
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