Buying smartphone clones can prove to be a dangerous activity, often causing more headaches than their discounted prices are worth. Proof of such devices’ danger manifested itself in the form of a spyware-bearing Samsung Galaxy S4 clone discovered this week.
The Star N9500 is nearly identical to Samsung’s past-generation flagship device, both inside and out, but it carried very nasty malware within. The news spread all over the web after German security firm G Data revealed the malicious nature of the device, to which eBay reacted by banning the smartphone from its storefront.
The €130 to €165 Star N9500 is no longer available from eBay, reducing the company’s global reach by titanic proportions. Said device’s manufacturer deserved no less than this, as they were taking users’ private information with no consent.
The Star N9500 could “retrieve personal data, intercept calls and online banking data, read emails and text messages or control the camera and microphone remotely”, sending everything to a Chinese server. All while camouflaged as the Google Play Store in the process management settings.
The malware could not be removed, as it was baked right into the firmware, and it prevented security updates. Needless to say, it was one nasty little bug you don’t want to run across.
No longer will future customers need to worry about this specific smartphone, but try to be careful when choosing your next phone. Clones coming from less than reputable manufacturers will have their problems. We wish these were all performance problems, but some may even attempt to take your privacy and information, as did the Star N9500.
Choose wisely and try to stick to well-known brands. As for eBay’s decision, we must tip our hats to them. It was the best they could have done for their customers. We certainly wish more retailers and sellers were as sincere.