Recently, the China Judgment Document Network published a verdict on the illegal control of computer information systems found to have been executed on Gionee phones. According to the court details, more than 20 million Gionee phones were intentionally inflicted with Trojan horse malware via an app between December 2018 and October 2019. The app becomes a tool to profit from users through unsolicited ads and other illegitimate means.
The court found that Beijing Baice Technology Co., Ltd. connived with the defendant Shenzhen Zhipu Technology Co., Ltd. (a subsidiary of Gionee) to implant Trojan horse programs into users’ Gionee phones through the update of the “Story Lock Screen” app. The software is automatically updated on the affected Gionee mobile phones without the user’s knowledge using the Pull method.
In December 2018, due to the inefficiency of the existing “pull” method, Wang Dengke proposed to implant the hot update plug-in “Dark Horse Platform” into apps such as “Story Lock Screen”. The app and its SDK version with Trojan plug-ins were upgraded, and then the “Dark Horse Platform” was used to install and update the “Living Trojan Horse” without the user’s knowledge, thereby improving the efficiency of the Pull job. The proposal was implemented ater that month.
Court details revealed that from December 2018 to October 2019, both Beijing Baice Company and Shenzhen Zhipu Company successfully executed the “pull activities” a total of 2.88 billion times. From April 2019, the number of devices covered by the monthly “pull activity” was more than 21.75 million, of which 26,519,921 Gionee mobile phones were involved in October 2019 alone. In terms of revenue, the companies are estimated to have earned RMB 27.85 million from Beijing Baice Company’s “pulling” business, while their estimated expenses are put at 8.425 million yuan.
The court ruled that the defendant Shenzhen Zhipu Technology Co., Ltd. committed the crime of illegally controlling the computer information system; the defendant Xu Li, Zhu Ying, Jia Zhengqiang, and Pan Qi were found guilty of illegally controlling the computer information system and were sentenced to three to three years and six months of jail term and each of them were slapped with a fine of 200,000 yuan.
For clarity, Shenzhen Zhipu Technology Co., Ltd. is a subsidiary of Shenzhen Gionee Communication Equipment Co., Ltd. The industrial and commercial filings show that Shenzhen Gionee holds 85% of the shares of Shenzhen Zhipu Company. Shenzhen Zhipu Company’s business scope includes computer software technology development, advertising business, and the use of information network to operate game products. Its registered capital is 10 million yuan, and its legal representative is Xu Li.
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