the-new-android-malware-that-spies-on-youA while back I mentioned a number of likely-looking cheap Chinese OEM Android tablets on Amazon that might work as potential alternatives to the Fire if you wanted something more open. However, it turns out that those cheap tablets have another drawback apart from being cheaply-made: they often contain malware.

The International Business Times reports that security researchers from Cheetah Mobile Security Lab have examined a number of Chinese OEM tablets offered for sale on Amazon sites in countries all over the world, and discovered that over 30 of them contain a trojan called Cloudsota, baked into the tablet at the operating system level so it can’t be removed—it returns when the tablet is rebooted. The researchers complained to Amazon about each tablet, but later found that many of them were still being sold. Caveat emptor.

It may not be all 30, but based on the research from Cheetah Mobile Security Lab and our searches on Amazon, we have compiled a list of Android tablet brands currently being listed on Amazon that online shoppers everywhere should definitely avoid purchasing:

Fusion5, Tagital, Rockchip, Yuntab, WonderMedia, Allwinner, SoftWinners, JYJ, JEJA and NATPC.

You will find these brands listed either within the URL listing title in search results, or within the full listing title on the product page, or listed as the seller’s name, which is beneath the listing title.

It’s a little confusing whether the brand name refers to just the tablet or the CPU (one of the tablets I mentioned in that prior post was a Dragon Touch brand tablet with an Allwinner CPU), but to be on the safe side, you should probably avoid any tablet with those brand names appearing anywhere within it. Furthermore, you should probably examine the reviews of even tablets that don’t have those brand names in them, because if someone does run into a trojan problem, they’ll likely say so.

But even so, there’s no guarantee that any Chinese OEM tablet isn’t infected—it could just be that none of the people hit by it have posted reviews about it. Are you really willing to take the chance that you’ll get exactly what you pay for? I withdraw any recommendation I might have made to buy a cheap Chinese OEM tablet. It’s just not worth the risk, especially since there is now a more-reliable just-as-cheap alternative.

To my mind, the best solution for someone looking for a cheap tablet now is probably just to go with Amazon’s own brand of hardware. Regardless of whether you think Amazon is an evil empire out to take over the publishing world, you can’t deny that its $50 Fire is both cheap and trustworthy. It’s considerably more reliable than some unknown no-brand from China, especially if you install the Play Store and Google apps on it, or even root it outright to put a new operating system on. And you can rely on it not to contain malware (unless you think Amazon’s “Special Offers” qualify).

Better not take chances with cheap, unknown hardware. At least you know the worst Amazon can do is try to sell you something.


  1. I’m on my 4th unbranded Chinese tablet, they have all been good and reliable, with no problems fro malware or Trojans, or anything else, I think the bloke who wrote this article may be biased towards the more expensive name.

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