Owners of Gigaset Android smartphones have been hit by malware that is automatically installed through what appears to be a supply chain attack, a blog post by German tech writer Günter Born claims.
According to a translated version of his 5 April post, Born was made aware of issues with the devices, that resembled those that arise after malware attacks, since 1 April.
Security researcher Nathan Collier of Malwarebytes pointed out that “the names Gigaset and Siemens have considerable overlap – Gigaset was formerly known as Siemens Home and Office Communications Devices”.
Born listed the following oddities as taking place on Gigaset devices:
- Browser windows suddenly open with advertisements or redirect to gambling sites;
- WhatsApp accounts are blocked (due to critical activity);
- Facebook accounts may be taken over completely;
- SMS messages may be sent automatically;
- The device goes into “Do not disturb” mode;
- The battery is drained quickly; and
- The smartphone is slow.
Collier said “The culprit installing these malware apps is the Update app, package name com.redstone.ota.ui, which is a pre-installed system app. This app is not only the mobile device’s system updater, but also an Auto Installer known as Android/PUP.Riskware.Autoins.Redston.”
He said the following models appeared to be infected:
- Gigaset GS270; Android OS 8.1.0
- Gigaset GS160; Android OS 8.1.0
- Siemens GS270; Android OS 8.1.0
- Siemens GS160; Android OS 8.1.0
- Alps P40pro; Android OS 9.0
- Alps S20pro+; Android OS 10.0
Collier also added a word of caution: “It is important to realise that every mobile device has some type of system update app. Unless you are experiencing the exact behaviours [outlined here], you are most likely not infected.
“Another key point is that this pre-installed update app is the not the same as what is described in Android ‘System Update’ malware steals photos, videos, GPS location. In that case, the malware is simply hiding as an update app, but is not a pre-installed system app.”
Collier provided a somewhat complicated method to get rid of the malicious app for the moment and also detailed how to install it once Gigaset came up with a solution.
Contacted for comment, a Gigaset spokesman told iTWire: “During routine control analyses, we noticed that some older smartphones had problems with malware. This finding was also confirmed by inquiries from individual customers.
“We take the issue very seriously and are working intensively on a short-term solution for the affected users. In doing so, we are working closely with IT forensic experts and the relevant authorities.
“We will inform the affected users as quickly as possible and provide information on how to resolve the problem. We expect to be able to provide further information and a solution within 48 hours.
“It is also important to mention at this point that, according to current knowledge, the incident only affects older devices. We currently assume that the devices GS110, GS185, GS190, GS195, GS195LS, GS280, GS290, GX290, GX290plus, GX290 PRO, GS3 and GS4 are not affected.
“This is all we can say for the time being – we are still investigating.”
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