Chinese phone maker Gionee has been found guilty of intentionally implanting malware in over 21.75 million phones. The reason behind it was to generate revenues, said the smartphone maker.
Shenzhen Zhipu Technology, a subsidiary of Gionee, in collaboration with partner Beijing Baice, successfully implanted a Trojan Horse program in the Gionee smartphones via an update to the Story Lock Screen app in 2018.
This was confirmed by the statement released by the People’s Court of Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province.
A hot code push technology was used to the implant it without the knowledge of the users. This allowed the automatic update to the mobile apps when the server is updated.
A hot update plugin Dark Horse Platform was first proposed by the Beijing Baice in 2018 to enhance the efficiency of the pull method, reported Pan Daily.
By this, the SDK version of the Story Lock Screen was upgraded with Trojan plugins without the users’ knowledge.
The Pull method was activated at least 2.88 billion times between December 2018 and October 2019. It resulted in $4.2mn revenue for the companies through unsolicited ads and other means.
The parent company was fined by $61,000 for illegally controlling computer information. Zhipu is basically a software technology company specialized in advertising operations and gaming products. Chinese phone maker Gionee holds 85% of its share.
Also, four employees of Zhipu, Xu Li, Zhu Ying, Jia Zhengqiang, and Pan Qi, were sentenced to three years and six months in jail and fined $30,000 each.
Baice also worked with companies like Microfountain and Flyme. However, both the companies denied wrongdoings.