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I ask this question because I read somewhere that there was a Chinese smartphone with in-built malware which could not removed even by rooting.

(I searched the article everywhere but couldn't find it. So, no source. Sorry!)

Is there a possibility that any kind of malware or virus, that could harm your device and/or your privacy, will remain even after rooting your device?

EDIT: By rooting, I actually meant rooting and then flashing a custom ROM, i.e, reinstall android. Sorry for the confusion.

Can malware and viruses persist after this?

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Even after installing custom ROMs some area on the internal storage is left unchanged and if the malware resides in that area of the internal storage it won't be deleted even after you flash a new ROM but it is a very rare case when a malware goes so deep into the system.
If you want another example for this then try to install a boot logo (i know it isn't a malware) but even after you flash 100s of ROMs it will never change the boot logo of your device and this proves that some code remains unchanged even after flashing new ROMs

  • What area that are both unchanged between flashes and stores executable stuff could affect userspace? Boot logo is a bad example as it strictly accepts files of very specific format. /data and /system are wiped when installing a ROM. /tmp and many are only generated on each boot. – Andy Yan Dec 23 '16 at 12:05
  • Is there a way to clean everything? – Stack-Boi Dec 24 '16 at 18:45
  • What are bootkits? Obad? Oldboot? bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/601716/… Can bootkits persist even after reinstallation of OS? Are these what you were talking about? – Stack-Boi Dec 24 '16 at 18:47
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Rooting doesn't have anything to do with removing malware. Rooting is process when you get a superuser on your phone so you have full control over device (like accessing all files and folders etc.) What you can do is to remove system apps. And those chinese phones had malware probably on kernel level or built in into system, not as application.

  • How do I remove malware at the kernel level or built-in into a system? Will reinstallation suffice? – Stack-Boi Dec 24 '16 at 20:31
  • @Stack-Boi You can remove it with flashing custom rom in which malware is removed. – Једноруки Крстивоје Dec 24 '16 at 20:36
  • Can all malware be removed by flashing custom ROM? This was the question I originally intended to ask. – Stack-Boi Dec 24 '16 at 20:44
  • What are bootkits? Obad? Oldboot? – Stack-Boi Dec 24 '16 at 20:44
  • @Stack-Boi Maybe, maybe not you'll know when you try it's not exact science – Једноруки Крстивоје Dec 24 '16 at 21:24
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Rooting allows you to modify the system and access all app data. It does not change anything regarding already installed installed malware or virus.

If you have rooted the device using an exploit the installed malware may also use this exploit to get root access.

Conclusion: If your device is infected delete it and reinstall an untainted system/image. However advanced malware may even survive a installation of a new ROM potentially in partitions that are not erased or in flash roms of embedded chips.

Therefore the only 100% secure way to get rid of malware is to physically shred your device. No device - no malware.

  • What I actually meant to say was: rooting followed by flashing. Sorry! Can this ensure that all malware, viruses and backdoors are removed? – Stack-Boi Dec 21 '16 at 20:07
  • What are bootkits? Obad? Oldboot? bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/601716/… Can bootkits persist even after reinstallation of OS? – Stack-Boi Dec 21 '16 at 20:11

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