By James Green ~ June 25th, 2014 3:45 PM MST
Skynet is the self-aware artificial intelligence system from the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick, Terminator. Now there is a real computer program looking to overtake the human race, and it is ominously called Skaynet.
Now we don’t expect Skaynet to be starting WWIII any time soon but it is a pretty nasty little Android device that, for your convenience, comes preinstalled with Android malware. Skaynet is a low-end Android phone sporting reasonably impressive specifications (1GB RAM, 5-inch 720p screen, 3g dual-SIM, Android 4.2). Priced around $160 new on Amazon Skaynet would draw the attention of any Android user looking to cheaply replace a lost, stolen, or out of date phone.
But like John Connor, you shouldn’t be fooled by Skaynet. These specifications are all a clever ruse to sell a malware infected device. The screenshots on the Skaynet device listing show that Google Play is installed, however, this is not truly the case. While the application installed appears to be Google Play it is actually a Trojan in disguise, detected as Armor.Trojan.Uupay.
The Uupay Trojan was discovered in March, 2014, by Kaspersky Labs Expert Dong Yan. This Trojan has an extraordinary list of permissions that grant it access to nearly all device functions. The Uupay Trojan allows the Skaynet device to monitor device activity and collect information to be sent back to remote servers in China.
But most worryingly of all the Uupay Trojan has the capability to remotely install additional application without the user’s knowledge or permission. Anonymous apps installed on a device can have any number of malicious functions and the user may be completely unaware of background malware activity.
Thankfully Amazon has finally pulled this phone from their market. But anyone who may have purchased the ominous, malware infested Skaynet device should seek a new device as soon as possible.♦
James Green is a mobile security researcher who has worked in the Android security field for several years providing privacy and security advice to Android users. Email: James@ArmorforAndroid.com; Twitter: @James_AfA