At least in theory, when buying a refurbished phone, is there a chance the phone has been modified, in the same vein as phishing, to look like a stock installation, down to the "factory reset" and maybe even appear rooted?

I.e., if a company bought 300 refurbished phones off eBay...

I suppose running Wireshark to see what's coming in or out might be a good start but I am hoping someone will say it's extremely unlikely (given that nothing's impossible).


2 Answers 2


Is it possible? Of course, see the examples above and probably below.

Is it likely? Depends where you buy them.

If you buy random, too cheap to be true, refurbished smart phones from a nonreputable chinese vendor on ebay your chances of running into a smart phone with malware increase exponentially.

Unlike some stories about hacked devices and such, this is something that could be worth the hackers while though as today a lot of people will have banking, facebook, authenticator, etc apps on their phone so the attack vector is very real I would say.

On the other hand, to add some realism, buying a refurbished phone from a reputable source like a big brand, well known web shop or similar (you know the brands for your own country / area best) I'd imagine the risk isn't that high.


Given that even official vendors sell their devices with adware or malware preinstalled I would not be surprised if somebody selling refurbished phones will use this business model too:

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