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SIM Malware?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Lyon_, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Lyon_

    Lyon_ Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hi people,

    I hope that you are all doing fine.

    Recently, I reset my device because I thought it could have some kind of malware as it began to become too hot when doing normal tasks.

    After the reset was finished, I was surprised to find out that somethings were different than before and still I found the device getting too hot occasionally.

    For instance, one of the things that it seemed different to me was the fact the "lockdown mode" option (usually appearing when turning off the device) was not there anymore.

    Also, the option to reset the google advertising id (previously present in the section 'Privacy' at Settings), was not present.

    I tried to to reset some other times the device. The option for resetting the google advertising id just appears back when I reset the device without the sim card. As soon as I get the card inside the phone, the option dissapears again.

    Should I be concerned? Would it be possible that the simcard has some kind of malware?

    I thank you all in advance for any thoughts on this matter.

    #1 Lyon_, Jun 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  2. Davdi

    Davdi Android Expert

    It would help us if you can post the make/model of phone, the carrier and Andoid version. Also whether the phone is running stock android, is rooted or running a custom ROM.
  3. Lyon_

    Lyon_ Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hi Davdi, thank you for your answer.

    The phone is a Samsung Note 9, carrier Orange. No custom ROM, just Android 10.
  4. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    SIMs have very limited storage, and some relatively constrained interactions with the phone, so I don't think it likely that any significant malware could be stored in a SIM. And of course if the behaviour changes when you remove the SIM that means that no malware was installed. So it seems more likely to me that this is a feature of the phone, perhaps added by the carrier or manufacturer in an update, that results in different behaviour when the SIM is present. I can't be certain, but as a reset would remove apps (including malware) and restore settings to default it's more likely that any change in behaviour after a reset is the default set by the manufacturer + carrier than the consequence of an infection.

    Have you had any system updates recently? That would be one possible cause.

    Personally for stuff like the lockdown option I'd check your settings to be sure there isn't a control to enable/disable this that was changed by the reset. If you know someone else with a SIM from the same carrier you could try that in your phone and see whether that does the same thing: if it does then I think you can rule out any possibility that the behaviour is due to malware on the SIM.
    MrJavi and Davdi like this.
  5. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    It's a common, and very misleading, trope in the media to paint all problems on 'malware' so before you do go down that rabbit hole you might want just step back and take a look to confirm that's what the actual problem is. Odds are more likely to be some software glitch -- i.e. an app with a corrupt config file that's causing the app process to run amok (resulting in the overheating).
    Also, it's not surprising to see a different look and feel after a Factory Reset. Any previous alterations you, or your carrier, made to the user Settings will be wiped.

    Anyway, try looking in your Settings >> Battery menu and see if any of the apps listed there that stand out as being a problem. Items like the Android system will always be running (and shouldn't be using too high a percentage as a background process) but you're looking for some app/service that's really significant.
    There's also a more detailed 'Running services' option that might reveal more. You need to enable your phone's Developer options to access it though:

    You mentioned your phone was still heating up after doing a Factory Reset. That would rule out the problem being due to an app you've installed and more likely to be some pre-existing, system-level app/process to look into. But just to clarify, did the heat up issue happen right after the Reset or after you installed different apps and things while you were restoring your phone?
    MrJavi likes this.
  6. Lyon_

    Lyon_ Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hi Hadron! Hi Svim!

    Thanks to you both for your answers.

    Yes, the problem is still there after resetting the phone and I have already reset it several times.

    I have had this phone for more than a year now but it never heated that much before. Even when I used Dex or watched videos for long time, I never noticed it.

    After resetting the phone the heat appears with a simple installation of the Samsung browser and after starting to use the internet (no videos). I would say that the problem is not just related to the browser because before the first reset it heated too much using other apps like NewPipe or using DeX (but that never happened for the all time before that I have used the phone).

    There are many random notifications. Some of them I find them normal because after I reset the phone I deactivated Google Play services, but usually those notifications do not appear more when disable the notification option on the settings of those particular apps. Now it is different, for example there is a "Wi-Fi Calling" notification that comes up frequently and also another one "Enable Google Play services" from Samsung Location SDK.

    Before the heating problems appeared, I was also not a fan of using Google services and I just used to use the Google Maps app, but nevertheless I never had this type of problem.

    The first time I decided to reset (after appearing the heating problems), I also did because somehow I noticed a pair of other strange things. For example a notification saying that IceCat app has tried to access my Wifi, and many notifications requesting me to introduce my Samsung Account password (maybe this latter is not strange because after I began to notice the heat problems I had changed my Samsung account password, but I was already log in in my phone so I did not understand why so many notifications).

    So what is your verdict on this matter? Am I doing everything wrong?

    Thanks to all of you for your help.
    #6 Lyon_, Jun 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  7. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Well the "enable Google Play Services" from Samsung location is understandable. I would expect that Samsung's location service used the "fused location" API, and that is provided by Google Play Services (Google put more and more core functionality into this thing). So most things that use location, I expect including Samsung's tools, will require Play Services to be enabled. On which topic, a reset will re-enable such things, so I assume that you've then gone and manually disabled them again - it would be interesting to know whether the problem was there before you started disabling?

    How severe are these heating problems? Have you tried to identify any app which might be using a lot of power, or running constantly? Any sort of activity could cause heating, and in principle this could change with a system update or even an app update, or possibly even as an unintended consequence of something else you've done (you could imagine that disabling one thing disrupts something else, for example). I agree that unless you've been downloading apps from random uncurated sites it's highly unlikely that malware lies behind this. If it's that some system app or service is running more you'll need to look in the settings, or maybe install a third party battery monitor (which can give more information) to try to identify which.

    The worst case would be that this is an early sign of a hardware problem, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.
  8. Davdi

    Davdi Android Expert

    It looks like your phone is prone to overheat. try Googling 'Samsung note 9 overheating'. There may be a solution in one of the many results.
  9. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    After doing a Factory Reset that forces you to do a complete restore -- and you need to distinguish what apps and services came preinstalled on your phone between that apps the you yourself installed. Your apps will be deleted and you need to reinstall them, and reconfigure both the preinstalled apps and your apps (set up your user accounts and passwords).
    Since you're apparently using a Samsung phone, suggest you install and set up Samsung's Smart Switch utility on a computer:
    You can make a full backups of your phone and it will make doing a restore of your phone after doing a Factory Reset a lot less of a hassle. And it's good to have backups of your phone data anyway.
    Davdi likes this.
  10. Davdi

    Davdi Android Expert

    It's really essential to have known good backups of anything on your phone that's not saved anywhere else.

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