• NO Processing Fee, No Diagnosis Fee, NO Data No Charge
20 Feb

Chinese Spyware Pre-Installed on All Samsung Phones (& Tablets)

Chinese Spyware Pre-Installed on All Samsung Phones (& Tablets)

The reddit user throws light on the Samsung’s involvement with Qihoo 360,

I know the title is rather sensational, however it couldn’t get any closer to the truth.

For those who are too busy to read the whole post, here’s the TL;DR version: The storage scanner in the Device Care section is made by a super shady Chinese data-mining/antivirus company called Qihoo 360. It comes pre-installed on your Samsung phone or tablet, communicates with Chinese servers, and you CANNOT REMOVE it (unless using ADB or other means).

This is by no means signaling hate toward Samsung. I have ordered the Galaxy S10+ once it’s available in my region and I’m very happy with it. I have been a long time lurker on r/samsung and r/galaxys10 reading tips and tricks about my phone. However, I want to detail my point of view on this situation.

For those who don’t know, there’s a Device Care function in Settings. For me, it’s very useful for optimizing my battery usage and I believe most users have a positive feedback about this addition that Samsung has put in our devices. With that being said, I want to go into details regarding the storage cleaner inside Device Care.

If you go inside the Storage section of Device Care, you’ll see a very tiny printed line “powered by 360”. Those in the west may not be familiar with this company, but it’s a very shady company from China that has utilized many dirty tricks to attempt getting a larger market share. Its antivirus (for PC) is so notorious that it has garnered a meme status in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Chinese speaking countries’ Internet communities. For example, 360 Antivirus on PC would ACTIVELY search for and mark other competitors’ products as a threat and remove them. Others include force installation of 360’s browser bars, using misleading advertisements (e.g. those ‘YOUR DEVICE HAS 2 VIRUSES, DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO SCAN NOW’ ads). These tactics has even got the attention of the Chinese government, and several court cases has already been opened in China to address 360’s terrible business deeds. (On the Chinese version of Wikipedia you can read further about the long list of their terrible misconducts, but there’s already many on its English Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qihoo_360).

If the company’s ethics are not troublesome enough, let me introduce you to the ‘Spyware’ allegation I made in the title. A news report from the Chinese government’s mouthpiece ChinaDaily back in 2017 reveals 360’s plan to partner up with the government to provide more big data insights. In another Taiwanese news report back in 2014, 360’s executive even admits that 360 would hand the data over to the Chinese government whenever he is asked to in an interview (https://www.ithome.com.tw/news/89998). The Storage scanner on your phone have full access to all your personal data (since it’s part of the system), and by Chinese laws and regulations, would send these data to the government when required.

With that in mind, for those who know intermediate computer networking, I setup a testing environment on my laptop with Wireshark trying to capture the packets and see what domains my phone are talking to. I head over to Device Care’s storage section and tapped update database (this manual update function seems to be missing from One UI 2.0), and voila, I immediately saw my phone communicating to many Chinese servers (including 360 [dot] cn, wshifen [dot] com). I have collected the packets and import them into NetworkMiner, here’s the screenshot of the domains: https://imgur.com/EtfInqv. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to parse what exactly was transferred to the servers, since it would require me to do a man in a middle attack on my phone which required root access (and rooting seemed to be impossible on my Snapdragon variant). If you have a deeper knowledge about how to parse the encrypted packets, please let me know.

Some may say that it’s paranoia, but please think about it. Being the digital dictatorship that is the Chinese government, it can force 360 to push an update to the storage scanner and scan for files that are against their sentiment, marking these users on their “Big Data platform”, and then swiftly remove all traces through another update. OnePlus has already done something similar by pushing a sketchy Clipboard Capturer to beta versions of Oxygen OS (which compared clipboard contents to a ‘badword’ list), and just call it a mistake later. Since it’s close source, we may really know what’s being transmitted to the said servers. Maybe it was simply contacting the servers for updates and sending none of our personal data, but this may change anytime (considering 360’s notorious history).

I discovered that the Device Care could not even be disabled in Settings. I went ahead and bought an app called PD MDM (not available on Play Store) and it can disable builtin packages without root (by abusing Samsung’s Knox mechanism, I assume). However I suffered a great battery performance loss by disabling the package, since the battery optimizer is also disabled too.

After a bit of digging, the storage cleaning in Device Care seemed to be present for a long time, but I’m not sure since which version of Android. It previously seemed to be handled by another sketchy Chinese company called JinShan (but that’s another story), but got replaced by 360 recently.

Personally, I’m extremely disappointed in Samsung’s business decision. I didn’t know about 360 software’s presence on my phone until I bought it, and no information was ever mentioned about 360 in the initial Setup screen. I could have opted for a OnePlus or Xiaomi with the same specs and spending much less money, but I chose Samsung for its premium build quality, and of course, less involvement from the Chinese government. We, as consumers, paid a premium on our devices, but why are we exposed to the same privacy threats rampant on Chinese phone brands? I get it that Samsung somehow has to monetize their devices with partnerships, but please, partner with a much more reputable company. Even Chinese’s Internet users show a great distrust about the Qihoo 360 company, how can we trust this shady and sketchy company’s software running on our devices?

This is not about politics, and for those who say ‘USA is doing the same, why aren’t you triggered?’, I want to clarify that, no, if the same type of behavior is observed on USA companies, I will be equally upset. As for those who have the “nothing to hide” mentality, you can buy a Chinese phone brand anytime you like. That is your choice. We choose Samsung because we believe it stand by its values, but this is a clear violation of this kind of trust.

If you share the same concern, please, let our voices be heard by Samsung. I love Reddit and I believe it’s a great way to get the community’s attention about this issue. Our personal data is at great risk.
To Samsung, if you’re reading this, please 1.) Partner with an entirely different company or 2.) At least make the Storage scanner optional for us. We really like your devices, please give us a reason to continue buying them.

Temporary Solution and Concern to note also.

Just in case in all the apps you’ve downloaded you spot ads , please note  also the developers of those apps are sharing and selling your data as part of adverts, nothing personal so to speak but those terms and conditions we all ignore to read before installing or are made difficult to locate where the links are. This is what screws everyone for ignoring them. Please read and know what you are bound to or about to give conceit for them to access.

The authorized system tracks or monitor your browser history, apps, the  music you listen or even stuff you normally buy on Amazon, eBay or even in google and to make matters worse triangulate your location. Well this is the future of A.I for big data being sold shared and sold out by the giants.

Solution: As a temporary solution, change all your settings for your apps, clear your browser’s history, daily clean all your cache’s out, delete apps you don’t use or need. Please read the terms before installing. This will minimize your exposure.

Contact us now:

Call now 0711 051 000. We are the Data recovery Experts in Kenya and Africa.  We also do digital forensics.
Do not Suffer in Silence we can help.  We are located at Chiromo Court 3rd floor Nairobi Kenya.


This blog is Courtesy of Reddit.com

Share this
06 Jan

How to spot a hard drive crash before it happens

Sighs that your hard disk will crash.

A hard drive crash can mean losing all your data and applications, but there are ways to spot problems early and minimize the risk of hard disk failure.


Software crashes all the time. While it can be annoying to lose unsaved work, it’s seldom the end of the world and restarting the application, or Windows itself, usually puts things right.

When hardware crashes, on the other hand, it’s much more serious – particularly when that hardware is your computer’s hard drive.




How hard drives operate.

Hard drives haven’t really changed much since they were invented 60 years ago. They’re physically much, much smaller and have much higher capacities (the first models were the size of a fridge and held just 3.75 megabytes of data), but they still store information on one or more fast-spinning magnetic ‘platters’, with a read/write head that skims over the surface like the arm on a record player.






Those platters can spin at anything up to 10,000 rpm and the read/write head dances across them barely a hair’s width away. This makes hard drives very fragile when they’re in use and even the slightest knock can send the read/write head ploughing into the platter surface – with disastrous consequences for your data.

This was a particular problem for early laptops, but 2.5-inch laptop hard drives now feature anti-shock technology that detects sudden movement and ‘parks’ the read/write heads safely out of the way for the duration. That’s not to say modern hard drives are indestructible – those platters are still spinning very quickly – and that means handling a laptop roughly is rarely a good idea.

Why do the hard drives fail?

Despite their complex mechanical nature, hard drives are still very reliable, but they don’t last forever. While it’s difficult to know how long any computer component will last, hard drive manufacturers use a measure called the Mean time between failures, or MTBF.

MTBF is a statistical estimate of how reliable a hard drive is, in terms of the number of hours it’s predicted to work between failures in normal use. This doesn’t mean a hard drive with an MTBF of 300,000 hours will be fault-free for 34 years – these figures are an average for all drives in a particular range and they’re calculated by extrapolating figures from intensive short-term tests.

In reality, tests have shown that up to 25% of a particular model of hard drive can fail within four or five years of use – although most are much more reliable than that. Failures often occur when a hard drive is new, usually as a result of manufacturing defects that only arise after a few weeks’ use, but other factors can also contribute.

Aforementioned shocks aside, extreme temperatures and prolonged constant use can also cause problems. ‘Consumer’ hard drives aren’t designed for 24/7 use, for example, so if you’re looking for one to use in a PC that runs round the clock, you’ll need to buy accordingly.

What really happens when a hard drive starts to fail?

Imminent hard drive failure is often preceded by random errors in Windows – files becoming corrupt or refusing to open, sudden operating system crashes and so on. If your PC is still working when this happens, you can scan your hard drive for errors using the Windows drive error-checking tool.

Do this by right-clicking the problem drive icon in Computer and selecting Properties. When the dialog box opens, click the Tools tab and then the Check now button under Error-checking. Tick the boxes for Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recover of bad sectors, then click the Start button. This process will take some time and is best left running overnight.


A ‘bad sector’ is a physical defect on a drive and while Windows can often circumnavigate the odd few with no ill effects, an abundance of them is usually a sign of impending hard drive failure.

More serious hard drive failures – the mechanical kind – are usually signalled by strange noises. Some high-performance hard drives do ‘chatter’, but any drive that makes grinding, clicking or pinging noises is usually on the way out. Try searching YouTube for hard drive failure sounds for some examples of what you should be listening for.

How to spot a failing hard drive

Increasing numbers of bad sectors and worrying noises are dead giveaways for hard drive failure, but there won’t always be such warning signs. Fortunately, all hard drives also feature their own built-in diagnostic tool to catch potential problems before they become serious.

It’s called SMART – short for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology – and you can access it with a free utility like HD Tune. Download and install the utility from www.hdtune.com/download.html (scroll down to find HD Tune, just above the Drive Power Manager section).

Run HD Tune and click the Health tab on its window. Look at the Status column – each entry should be OK (don’t worry about what these entries mean). If not, something is wrong.




What to do when a hard drive fails?

If you have an up-to-date backup, hard drive failure is a minor problem – just replace it and restore your data. If you don’t, then you’re in trouble.

The best advice in this case is to stop using the drive in question immediately, since the longer it’s left running, the more likely it is to fail catastrophically. Ideally, you should replace the hard drive and get your PC up and running again, then connect your old drive and copy any important data to the new one.

How successful this is depends on the type of failure, so you may have to turn to a data recovery company like us East African Data Handlers  if your data is important and the problem is a serious one.

Replacing a hard drive under warranty

The good news is that most hard drives that are just a few years old should still be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. So if yours fails, you may be eligible for a free replacement.

Search for ‘your hard drive manufacturer’s name’ rma (short for ‘return merchandise authorisation’) online and you should find the appropriate web page for checking if your drive is still covered and how to return it for a replacement. Just remember that this process won’t recover any of your data, so you’ll need to do that yourself beforehand.

This also means it’s worth paying close attention to warranties when you buy a new hard drive. Manufacturers that offer warranties of three years are more are clearly confident about their hard drives, for example, whereas those that only offer one may not be.



What about solid state drives?

While we’ve been talking about hard drives so far, some of the above problems also apply to solid-state drives.

Since SSDs have no moving parts, they’re much more resistant to impact damage than a hard drive and they won’t ever make strange noises. They can still suffer from bad sectors and manufacturing defects, though, and they also support SMART monitoring. So by all means switch to an SSD for the speed benefits, but don’t do it just for the sake of reliability

What happens when it is about to crush and need to recover  my data?

Do not attempt to do the recovery. Just bring it to the best and professional data recovery company if in East Africa called East African Data Handlers.


Share this

© 2023  East African Data Handlers. All rights reserved.