Analecta Cyber Company Blog: AT&T says malware secretly unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones

2015-10-05

AT&T says malware secretly unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones

AT&T Inc., a multinational telecommunications corporation and one of the largest provider of mobile and fixed telephones in the United States, has filed suit against former employees the company alleges received sums of $10,500 and at least $20,000 to secretly install malware on company computers.

According to the lawsuit, the malware would run invisibly after it has been downloaded by the employee, who would then be paid $2,000 every two weeks. The malware was purportedly used to unlock hundreds of thousands of AT&T smartphones without permission.



Company profited from AT&T codes

These locks on phones prevent them from changing networks which served as a control tool used by cellular carriers to prevent customers from switching to rival phone networks. Though they can be electronically removed, it could only be done after a customer had finished an AT&T contract. The alleged company behind the payments, California-based SwiftUnlocks, is also being sued. The company is suspected of secretly obtained access to hundreds of thousands of unlock codes, which allowed it to make money selling unlocking services to AT&T customers.

AT&T first discovered the irregularity following a surge in the number of unlock requests. The lawsuit revealed that unlocking services offered by SwiftUnlocks ranges from $10 to $50 depending on the phone unit.

Furthermore, the lawsuit accuses the employee's of computer fraud, breach of loyalty and civil conspiracy. The carrier asked the court to have the case in front of a jury.
An AT&T spokesperson said the company is confident that there was no improper access to private customer information or any other adverse effect on customers.