Skip to main content

Barnes & Noble removes malware from $50 Nook tablet, but you still shouldn't buy it

50 dollar nook
50 dollar nook (Image credit: Android Central)

About that $50 Barnes & Noble tablet. You might have heard that researchers working with Linux Journal found that the BNTV450 shipped from the factory with the same malware that phones from Blu and other companies that use a MediaTek processor had. It's called ADUPS and it was configured to literally harvest your personal data and send it back to a server in China.

Sometimes, data really does get sent back to China. This was one of those times.

Anyway, there's an update in the wild that "fixes" things. At least this one thing. Maybe.

The update brings a new version of ADUPS to the tablet. Supposedly, the "bad stuff" the ADUPS malware does is no longer present in versions newer than 5.5. The shipping version — 5.2.0.2.002 — was filled with data stealing goodness, but the version in the update file we received last night is 6.0. The worst part is that most of us can't check for this ourselves, as the ADUPS application needs to be completely decompiled to see the version number in the app manifest. To make a long story short, unless the folks behind ADUPS are doing something else that's shady, the update from B&N squares the malware issue away.

The "Maybe" part? Plenty of people consider any device with any version of the ADUPS software to be compromised and not fit for storing your personal information on. Personally, I'm with them but it's your $50.

But there are plenty of reasons to still not buy this tablet. Beginning with the fact that it's still 100% vulnerable to CVE-2015-6616. In human language, that means the Stagefright exploit. The Android version (6.0 in this case) should be at least partially patched, but there are security updates for the processor which have not been applied.

Don't buy this tablet. I'm telling you to not buy this tablet and our own Modern Dad looked at this one so you didn't have to.

Here's what he has to say about the update:

So it had malware in the program that serves ads. An update is removing the malware from the program that serves the ads. It's still not worth $50. Suck it up and buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire HD.

You know what tablet doesn't have malware, performs way better, and also costs $50? The Amazon Fire Tablet 7 (opens in new tab).

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

41 Comments
  • Slap a custom rom on it.
  • Or not but It and get something better for 50 bucks.
  • Doesn't help.
  • There's not really a justification to buy any tablet that's not a Pixel C or iPad Pro. Especially from a security standpoint. Zero OEM's other than NVIDIA are keeping their stuff up to date. So I guess you can justify the SHIELD K1 as well.
  • Really? No justification whatsoever? How about the $500 price of the C and the fact the other is an iPad? I can justify the hell out of getting either of those.
  • Those are the only three tablets worth purchasing if you care at all about quality and/or security. Sorry if that was unclear in the wording. I'm not sure what "I can justify the hell out of getting either of those" means, because it seems you're trying to say you don't want either one but you're saying that you would.
  • I think he's talking about price. Samsung has made some really good tablets also.
  • Ok; all cheap tablets except the NVIDIA Shield K1 should be avoided because of 1) lack of support 2) terrible quality 3) they usually come with preinstalled malware. Samsung tablets are usually really good out of the box and then they're abandoned, though some do get periodic updates.
  • And what of cheap windows 10 tablets?
  • All Windows tablets are garbage, regardless of price. As long as you don't include the Surface line in that, because those aren't tablets and they're awesome. If you include the Surface line and call those tablets, then they're the only Windows tablets worth buying.
  • Garbage in what sense? To be honest it just sounds like snobbery...
  • It's not about the individual tablets themselves with Windows, it's the fact that Windows doesn't have a mobile OS and it provides a terrible experience as a tablet without any peripheral options. The surface overcomes it because of the awesome keyboard.
  • I've got a 2 in 1... They're readily available, often for the same price as a pixel c keyboard on its own. The experience as a tablet may not be perfect, but it is perfectly functional, and the same is true of Android.
  • Windows doesn't have a mobile ecosystem at all; that's slowly changing but unfortunately it's not there yet. Most of the best apps don't exist at all and those that do are pretty weak.
  • Not to mention that even if they had an ecosystem, Windows takes WAY too many liberties with your private data - which goes back to the first thing I said and the reason this article exists. If you care about performance or security, don't buy terribad tablets.
  • What about having a cheap tablet to read ebooks on or strictly watch movies?
  • "Those are the only three tablets worth purchasing if you care at all about quality and/or security" If you don't care about those things, then get whatever lol :)
  • Luckily we got a whole bunch of idiots clicking the down vote because they can't be bothered to read the nuance of an entire 4 sentence post.
  • You're right. Calling people idiots is the best way to convince them of the error of their ways.
  • I'm not trying to convince them to not be idiots, just pointing out that they're doing so and that hiding behind anonymous arrows rather than engaging in honest conversation is idiotic and cowardly. They're all trolls - it's fine.
  • Or they know that when you argue with stupid it just brings you down to its level and beats you with experience.
  • Sounds like you got something to say but forgot what it was and went all passive aggressive. Spit it out. My original statement was that those who value security and performance have a short list of options. So far no one had made an argument against that statement.
  • But the iPad pro runs ios, and it's hideous.
  • I hear you, but from a performance and security standpoint it's one of the best. A whole lot of people like iOS, especially for tablets and so an Android phone and Apple tablet is a very popular combination.
  • Oh. Yikes
  • Meanwhile Google collects every bit of information from you and nobody cares.
  • False equivalency ...
  • While remaining one of the only companies that actually protects your privacy and security... Microsoft: Collects lots of data, sells it.
    Apple: Collects lots of data, gives themselves permission to sell it, doesn't trade or sell any of it.
    Google: Collects lots of data, tells you how they uses it, doesn't trade or sell any of it.
    Nook (Barnes and Noble): Collects lots of data, gives it to spies, doesn't protect your security, sells user data to TransUnion We can go on and on with this.
  • Serious question? I have the Shield K1, and like it pretty well, but if we're not going to be getting a new, small Nexus tablet, as I had hoped. What do you think of the Huawei mediapad m3? Just curious.
  • From a security standpoint, I don't trust anything from HUAWEI unless google controls the software.
  • Cool, thanks.
  • Same here.
  • Proof?
  • Proof of what?
  • Proof of Deez nutz!
  • Proof that all the BS you posted above is true!!?!
  • Read their privacy statements and the filings of lawsuits against them? Which part do you think is BS?
  • They are the same privacy statements that all tech companies use, your point is!!?!
  • So.. read them. And then think about what they allow themselves to do and what they prohibit themselves from doing. And then read how they actually use these things in practice. Then tell me which part of the above you believe is "BS".
  • I care. I love the service Google provides in return.
  • Android really has no value presence in the tablet market. Sure, you can argue about the existence of the Pixel C, but #1 is that in the hands of millions #2 the state of tablet-optimized apps on Android is pathetic! Despite several years to mature, Android tablet-optimized apps are essentially zero. Add in the fact that nearly ALL Samsung tablets are abandoned software/OS/development wise and you screwed. And the Pixel C is decent, build wise. But if the ass eco-system is..."well just use this phone app all BLOWN up and stretched" the desire to own an Android tablet is like negative 1,000.