It seems that my original post Vodafone distributes Mariposa botnet caught a lot of attention. It was very interesting to see the reactions from the different actors. On the one hand Vodafone called it an isolated incident, deleted all posts on their forum from users asking about the incident, and then two days later announced the end of life of the HTC Magic. On the other hand reactions from users all over the blogosphere ranged from applause for uncovering this to accusing us of making it up, along with the inevitable and always amusing Android vs. iPhone fanboy quarrels.

However it also caught the attention of an employee of a different IT security company here in Spain, S21Sec, which specializes in researching banking trojans & vulnerabilities. This guy had also purchased an HTC Magic direct from Vodafone’s official website the same week as my co-worker. He hadn’t connected the phone to his PC yet, but as soon as he saw the news hurried back home, plugged it in via USB and scanned its memory card with both MalwareBytes and AVG Free. Lo and behold, Mariposa emerged again, exactly in the same way as in our original finding.


He immediately contacted us and was kind enough to send us the microSD card and allowed us to connect to his PC to analyze what had happend. According to the dates of the files, it seems his Vodafone HTC Magic was loaded with the Mariposa bot client on March 1st, 2010 at 19:07, a little over a week before the phone was delivered to him directly from Vodafone.

This Mariposa botnet client is also loaded in the same hidden NADFOLDER directory. It is also named as AUTORUN.EXE and will automatically run when connected into a Windows machine unless you have autorun disabled (download USB Vaccine to disable autorun if you haven’t done so yet).

The Mariposa botnet client itself is exactly the same as reported last week, with the same nickname and same Command & Control servers.

00129953  |.  81F2 736C6E74  |XOR EDX,746E6C73 ; â€tnls”

If these are not enough coincidences, there was also more malware in the SD card in addition to Mariposa. I also found a Win32/AutoRun worm in the following location of the phone’s card:


And for those conspiracy theorists amongst you (bess you!), the AV that he has installed was not Panda but AVG.


So what conclusions can we draw from all this?

  • Vodafone stated it was an isolated incident, but that theory is losing ground as quick as you can say “p0wn3d”
  • Originally I had thought it was an issue with a specific refurbished phone as well. But having the exact same botnet client with the exact same characteristics, with such little time difference between the malware being loaded and delivered to the client and all happening during the same week, makes me think this might be a bigger problem, either with QA or with a specific batch of phones.
  • If you’re in Europe and you’ve purchased a HTC Magic from Vodafone a few weeks before or after March 1st 2010, I’d double-check my PC and my HTC’s microSD card if I were you.

The lesson to be learned here could be: either stop pre-loading malware into the phones or at least stop selling them to employees of IT security companies 😉