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Android Device Users Susceptible to Malware Attack

For all the smartphone and tablet users out there, another bug has been reported in the Android operating system. Before you panic, it is not suspected to be currently exploited by hackers and there is already a patch available, but there is some not so good news.

The vulnerability may allow an attacker to perform functions on Android devices without the end user doing a single thing. If a video is created with malware inserted and sent in the form of a text, as soon as it is received by the device, it can perform functions. The user doesn't have to view it or open it. Please be aware that this bug could compromise personal data you have stored on your Android device including: contacts, emails, passwords and apps including your HCU mobile banking app.

Issues like these underscore the importance of applying patches and updates as soon as they are made available. Also make sure you are running some type of anti-malware on mobile devices and that is always kept updated.  It is recommended that you configure the settings to update the files automatically.

One of the criticisms security professionals and others have about patches for mobile devices running on the Android operating system is that it is ultimately up to the manufacturers and carriers as to when to release patches for vulnerabilities such as this one and for the most part, that does not appear to be a priority because they would rather users buy new devices than patch them. So, you can also try lobbying your mobile service providers and device manufacturers to push out the updates in a timely manner.

What other steps can you take to protect your device from this potential bug?

  • Try asking your device vendor whether a patch is available already.
  • If you can't get a patch right now, find out when to expect it so that you can apply it as soon as you can.
  • If your messaging app supports it (Messaging and Hangouts both do), turn off Automatically retrieve MMS messages. See images below:
    Turn this option off in Messaging Turn this option off in Hangouts
  • If your device supports it, consider blocking messages from unknown senders if you haven't already.
  • If your SMS/MMS app doesn't allow you to turn off Automatically retrieve messages, consider simply switching back to Android Messaging, which does.