Buying Cheap Phones Is Playing “Russian Roulette with your privacy”

Cheap phones could have adware installed.


Recently there’s been a lot of criticism towards buying cheap phones, especially cheap Chinese phones.

The criticism started after it was revealed that Chinese budget smartphone manufacturer Blu had installed privacy-breaching adware onto their smartphone devices.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop at Blu mobile. Back in July, Russian antivirus firm Dr. Web reported that¬†Leagoo and Nomu smartphones also had potentially malicious software built straight into the software.

Like most services, it’s become clearer that if you’re not paying the going price for it, or you’re getting it for free, it’s likely because your data is being sold in some way to recuperate the costs.

In China, where such privacy rules aren’t as protected, it’s possible for Chinese manufacturers to team up with marketing agencies, or more worryingly, malicious organizations, to sell their user’s data.

The lesson to learn from this is that you should probably think twice about buying a cheap smartphone. This is especially true if you’re buying online from Amazon or another online-based retailer, where the barrier to start selling is almost non-existent.

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It’s also important to research the manufacturer names that you’re buying from. In many cases, these lesser-known manufacturer names are often created by bigger Chinese manufacturing firms as a way to hide their scrupulous activity.

Graham Cluley, a security threat researcher and blogger, put it perfectly;

“If you buy a cheap Android phone, you’re playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with your privacy and security.”

Other companies have chipped in regarding buying cheap phones from China.

Ramon Llamas, research manager of market-intelligence firm IDC mentioned that “You’re going to have a relationship with that device for two-plus years, find out what the manufacturer’s history has been regarding privacy. Ask yourself whether you’d be comfortable with it.”

It’s a very good statement. Many advertisers and marketing agencies would pay top dollar to have access to a single ID that they could advertise products to freely for up to two years. It’s not just the marketing agencies you have to watch out for, either.

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When a company disrespects their customer’s privacy and rights as a consumer, there’s no way of judging how far they’ll be willing to go to make more money out of their products. This could potentially mean stepping the line between what’s legal and what’s not. Buying cheap phones from Chinese manufacturers could potentially lead to you having your data sold off to malicious organizations that may try to brute force your online accounts and bank accounts.

These same malicious organizations could use techniques such as SMS tracking, app monitoring, or keylogging to track what you say, what information you input into your device, and what private data you save in your smartphone’s notes.

Once again, it is like playing Russian roulette. There’s just as much chance that some of the budget Chinese manufacturers are simply trying to fill a market with a good, trustworthy product. If you’re interested in buying cheap smartphones, your best bet is to research your manufacturer like crazy and always be aware of the potential risks.

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