NetQin, a Chinese antivirus software company, has been accused of working with mobile software firm, Feiliu, to deliberately infect smartphones with malware before charging users to clean up the virus, according to an exposé by Chinese State-TV.
Whenever the NetQin antivirus app was installed on Java-based feature phones such as Nokia and Sony Ericcson handsets, it would covertly install Feiliu’s download tool app onto the phone. CNet reports that the pre-installed Feiliu mobile download app downloads four files and automatically runs them concurrently, which causes a significant slowdown in the handset’s performance. The NetQin app would in turn report a virus to the user, and request a 2RMB (US$0.30) update in order to remove the malware. Additionally, the NetQin app, as the claim says, uninstalls any other anti-virus app from that users’ phone.
The reports exposed NetQin as an investor in the company that makes the Feiliu app. The CEOs of the two companies were classmates. While both companies deny the allegations and criticize CCTV for “inaccurate” reporting, other partners don’t seem to have taken the news lightly. China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom have banned NetQin from their respective mobile app stores, and Nokia has terminated its cooperation with the firm, removing the preinstalled software from various Nokia models in China.