Phones Tips Technology

Report: How second-hand, low budget phones expose your data

Most users of second-hand and low budget smartphones are vulnerable to cyber-attacks as their data can be easily compromised, Paradigm Initiative (PNI) has warned. The body in a report titled: ‘Digital Rights and Privacy in Nigeria’ said the huge demand for refurbished second-hand phones poses high risks for Nigerians.

Paradigm Initiative is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for under-served youth.

According to the Senior Program Manager at PNI, Adeboye Adegoke, most of the refurbished phones had to be unlocked to be used in Nigeria, and in the process, all security features that could protect the users are removed from the phones.  “These phones, which may have been imported from the United Kingdom, the United States, or China, are often locked to the network provider of the original owner. The common ‘jailbreaking’ processes used to unlock this setting also turn off some security features, which again jeopardise the privacy of data on the phone” said Adegoke in the report.

Again, he said most low-price phones that the majority of Nigerians can afford come with pre-installed software that the buyer cannot control or delete. The software, he said, leaves the users of the phone vulnerable to data breaches. “In a January 2020 open letter to Google, a global coalition of data-privacy advocates called for action against such pre-installed Android apps, which can leave users vulnerable to their data being collected, shared, and exposed without their knowledge or consent,” Adegoke stated.

Read also: https://www.techtrackafrica.com/tecno-allays-fear-over-malware-issue-in-w2/

Recall that a U.K security firm, Upstream had recently reported that some low-budget phones made by Transsion and being sold in Africa were infected with xHelper, a pre-installed malware signing mobile users up to subscription services without their permission.

“Secure-D caught and blocked an unusually large number of transactions coming from Transsion Tecno W2 handsets mainly in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, and South Africa, with some fraudulent mobile transaction activity detected in another 14 countries,” the report had stated.

Head of Secure-D at Upstream, Geoffrey Cleaves, commented on the report saying: “This particular threat takes advantage of those 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.”

 

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