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Society

A Million Greek Cellphones Have Malware, Chinese App Suspect

January 22, 2019

ATHENS – It seems like nothing high-tech is safe in the age of hackers with reports that some one million mobile phones in Greece are infected with malicious applications or malware installed on their phones.

Upstream CEO Guy Krief told Kathimerini of the discovery shortly after the Greek firm’s security experts uncovered a suspicious China-made Android weather app.

Unwanted software is estimated to have cost mobile providers more than 2.7 million euros ($3.07 million) in 2018 because seemingly innocuous apps use up an abnormally large amount smartphone data, making consumers more cautious about spending money on large data packages. Krief said than an estimated 15 million gigabytes of data were used up by malware in Greece last year.

Upstream gained big notice this month after the company’s security platform identified a popular weather app that was siphoning off unusual amounts of information from its users.

The free (often pre-installed) app, which had been downloaded more than 10 million times from Google’s Play store, was transmitting data including email addresses and mobile identity numbers to servers based in China.

The app also committed click fraud as it operated in the background, clicking digital ads on webpages. The app has since been removed from the site.

Krief says mobile providers in Greece want to get rid of the problem because their customers are becoming upset about the applications using so much of their allotted data.

Unlike programs in the United States and other countries, Greek mobile phone providers don’t feature unlimited use of data on cell phones for a set fee but charge customers who go over their contract limit.

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