Wednesday, April 05, 2017

removing malware/adware from Intex phone - deux

My earlier post about removing adware and malware from the Intex phone was too optimistic. The pop-ups asking to install UC Browser and so on had not stopped. So, I tried to delete files which I thought were causing the issue, by directly deleting files from /System/Apps. But then, when I tried to reboot the phone, it went into a loop, saying "Optimizing apps 1 of 72" or something like that, and would not start. So the phone was soft-bricked.

I thought it would be a good idea to reflash the firmware and use Root Uninstaller or some such tool instead. But after flashing using SP Tool, found that the phone was hard bricked. Hard-bricked meaning that the phone would not charge, would not go into recovery mode if switched on with volume down also.

After initial attempts to get it fixed by the local mobile repair guy - "Please try the Intex service centre" - and service centre - "Please bring the item, we will look at it and then tell you how much it will cost" - explored the ways to get it back to working condition. And found this guide. Warning - that page is not safe to open without an ad-blocker, and perhaps even with an ad-blocker!

So, the basic idea is - install the correct drivers, remove the battery, flash the boot loader first, then flash the rest of the firmware.

As mentioned on that page, the issue seemed to be wrong firmware. I thought I would install the latest firmware by using Intex_Aqua_4G_Strong_V06_Indian_SER_20160408-150449 but apparently my phone only accepts Intex_Aqua_4G_Strong_V03_1_8_Indian_SER_20160622_MT6735M

Another issue was that the driver was not installed properly on my WinXP machine. Installed the VCOM drivers properly on a Win7 machine, and then the firmware update went smoothly. Then uninstalled lots of bloatware, malware and adware, using Root Uninstaller which keeps a backup of the uninstalled apk, rebooting after every doubtful uninstall. Now at last the phone seems to be clean.

Some points which I noted were:

  • Kingroot seems to need a SIM installed in the phone to root.
  • Malwarebytes might be interfering in Kingroot's process, so I uninstalled it before trying to root again.
  • Also, prevented the screen from going to sleep. Not sure if this is important, though. 
  • Unfortunately I did not note down the names of the apps I removed. Everything with Intex in the name, also App Age Helper or something like that, and the three which malwarebytes pointed out. 

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