Gionee found guilty of installing Trojans in over 20 million smartphones to get profit

Photo Source: Medium

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Gionee has been found guilty by a Chinese court for intentionally installing malware on its smartphones to generate unfair revenue. The China Judgment Document Network issued a judgement on the illegal control of computer information systems found to have been executed on Gionee smartphones. As per the details by court, more than 20 million Gionee phones were imposed with Trojan Horse malware intentionally. This malware was imposed through an update between December 2018 and October 2019. 

As per the Chinese court, Shenzhen Zhipu Technology Co. Ltd. which is a subordinate of Gionee had implanted a Trojan Horse malware via a software update for the ‘Story Lock Screen’ app. The software was updated automatically on the affected Gionee mobile phones using the Pull method without informing or taking permission from users. The court details revealed that the company used a particular app to earn profit from the users through unwanted ads and other illegal means.

In December 2018, Wang Dengke suggested to implant the plug-in ‘Dark Horse Platform’ into the apps like ‘Story Lock Screen’ on Gionee phones. The Chinese company updated the app with its SDK version along with Trojan plug-ins and then through an update installed it in users phones. The users installed and updated their app thinking that it is a normal update. This is how the company was able to update the ‘Living Trojan Horse’ without the information being given to users which improved the capacity of the Pull job.

As per the court, Beijing Baice Company and Shenzhen Zhipu Technology accomplished the pull activities a total of 2.88 billion times. It is believed that from April 2019, the monthly pull activity increased by more than 21.75 million. With this calculation both the companies are estimated to have generated around CNY 27.85 million revenue from this method whereas the expenditure for that period is just a little CNY 8.425 million.

Shenzhen Zhipu Technology was found guilty by the court for illegally controlling the computer information system. The court also named three persons Xu Li, Zhu Ying, Jia Zhengqiang and Pan Qi who are guilty for illegally controlling the computer information system and they were sentenced to three years and six months of imprisonment. Moreover, all the three guilty have been fined for CNY 200000 each which is approx. Rs. 22,60,428.


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