The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday ordered Taiwan Mobile to recall all of its self-branded, China-made smartphones after the phones’ built-in software was found to contain a malicious program exploitable by scammers.
The telecom in April 2018 launched the Amazing A32 smartphone, which was manufactured in China, to encourage 3G users to upgrade to 4G, the commission said.
The phone cost NT$1,990 (US$70 at the current exchange rate).
Photo courtesy of the National Communications Commission
The telecom sold about 90,000 units of the model before it stopped offering them in July last year, NCC data showed.
As of Dec. 20, about 7,600 Taiwan Mobile subscribers were still using the smartphone, while the remainder of the buyers had migrated to other carriers or bought new smartphones, the commission said.
The Criminal Investigation Bureau last year informed the ministry of the information security breach, NCC Deputy Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said, adding that the commission had also received five complaints from service subscribers.
The bureau’s investigation found that the implanted program enabled scammers to obtain subscribers’ phone numbers, which they then used to open accounts for mobile game apps.
The apps would send the Taiwan Mobile subscribers a text message with a verification code, which the malicious program would also send to the scammers.
After the scammers finished registering on the mobile game apps, the text message would be automatically deleted from the subscribers’ phones. All of this would proceed without the subscribers’ knowledge.
The company should recall the smartphones “as soon as possible,” Wong said, without specifying a time frame.
The recall would allow subscribers to request a software update or a partial refund, Wong added.
Taiwan Mobile has set up a customer service hotline (0809-000-852) to answer questions from all Amazing A32 users, including those who have switched to other carriers.
Failure to address the problem could constitute a breach of the Telecommunications Management Act (電信管理法) and the telecom could face a fine of up to NT$1 million, Wong said, adding that the company could be fined until the issue is resolved.
To protect people from information security breaches on mobile phones manufactured in China, telecoms can only sell self-branded mobile phones manufactured in China after they obtain information security certification from the Taiwan Association of Information and Communication Standards, he said.
The telecoms must sign an affidavit saying that they would enforce remedial measures to address security breaches caused by preinstalled software on the phones, he added.
The commission would randomly check the top 10 models in Taiwan and mobile phones made in China to ensure that they meet national information security standards, Wong said, adding that telecoms and manufacturers that fail annual inspections would be required to resolve the issues immediately.
The commission already required mobile phone manufacturers to sign an affidavit guaranteeing that phones would not show Taiwan as being part of China after software updates, the ministry said.
Contravening the regulation would keep the commission from certifying a smartphone’s specifications, which manufacturers need to sell products in Taiwan, it added.
The coast guard on Friday took a Chinese fishing boat and the 17 people on board into custody, after it rammed into a patrol boat while attempting to flee. A 100-tonne coast guard vessel at about 8am discovered a Chinese fishing boat illegally operating in waters about 11 nautical miles (20.4km) northwest of Hsinchu, the Hsinchu offshore flotilla of the Coast Guard Administration said. The crew refused to allow law enforcement to board the ship and attempted to flee, it added. The coast guard vessel and another ship chased the fishing boat for about a half hour, during which time the Chinese boat
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that Beijing was trying to “annex” Taiwan, while China said its recent series of drills near Taiwan are aimed at combating the “arrogance” of separatist forces. The Ministry of National Defense earlier this month said that it had observed dozens of Chinese fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, operating nearby. The increased frequency of China’s military activities has raised the risk of events “getting out of hand” and sparking an accidental clash, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said last week. Asked about the spurt
China’s Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong has asked foreign consulates in Hong Kong to submit details of their local staff, which is more proof that the “one country, two systems” model no longer exists, a Taiwanese academic said. The office sent letters dated Monday last week to consulates in the territory, giving them one month to submit the information it requires. The move followed Beijing’s attempt to obtain floor plans for all properties used by foreign missions in Hong Kong last year, which raised concerns among diplomats that the information could be used for
‘ABNORMITY’: News of the military exercises on the coast of the Chinese province facing Taiwan were made public by the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday Taiwan’s military yesterday said it has detected the Chinese military initiating a round of exercises at a bay area in coastal Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan, since early yesterday morning and it has been closely monitoring the drills. The exercises being conducted at Fujian’s Dacheng Bay featured an undisclosed number of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) warplanes, warships and ground troops, the Ministry of National Defense said in a press statement. The ministry did not disclose what kind of military exercises are being conducted there and for how long they would be happening, but it did say that it has been closely watching