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Advertising malware installed at an early stage of device production warns security expert

Matthew Cook
June 6, 2018

Avast says UK users have unremovable software on their mobiles and tablets

Over 450 mobiles and tablets currently in use in the UK have unremovable adware software embedded into them according to Avast Threat Labs.

The adware, called ‘Cosiloon’, shows advertising over a webpage on any given browser and has been pre-installed on the 465 devices before shipment.

Various Android manufacturers have been identified as carriers of the malware with ZTE and Archos the biggest vendors included on the list.

According to Avast, the adware was first identified three years ago and can be removed but will be reinstalled unless the user allows Google Play Protect to deal with the problem.

More than 18,000 devices worldwide are affected by the malware with Avast head of mobile threat intelligence and security Nikolas Chrysaidos adding that it is difficult to remove due to the fact it
is installed at such an early stage of production.

He said: “Malicious apps can, unfortunately, be installed on firmware level before they are shipped to customers, probably without the manufacturer’s knowledge.

“If an app is installed on the firmware level, it is very difficult to remove, making it imperative that security vendors, Google and OEMs work together to ensure a safer mobile ecosystem for Android users.“

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