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Android phones can be hacked with sms message

Google scrambles to fix bug that affects 1 billion Android phones

28.07.2015
Android phones can be hacked with sms message

By Barry Eitel

SAN FRANCISCO 

Google announced Tuesday that it is working to fix a software bug that could allow attackers to hack smartphones running on its Android mobile operating system with just a text message.

The bug, which affects a piece of coding called Stagefright, was revealed by American cybersecurity firm Zimperium. The “extremely dangerous” bug, claim the researchers, is one of the worst Android glitches ever discovered and affects nearly 1 billion devices worldwide.

According to Zimperium, a hacker needs only to send a specially crafted multimedia text message to an Android device in order to use Stagefright to break into its owner’s data and apps. Most threateningly, the hacker does not need the smartphone user to do anything in order to break into the phone -- the majority of bugs and viruses require a user to unknowingly open or download malicious code.

"A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it," Zimperium said. "You will only see the notification."

Google said there have been no known attacks using the Stagefright bug.  

"This vulnerability was identified in a laboratory setting on older Android devices, and as far as we know, no one has been affected," the tech giant said in a statement. "As soon as we were made aware of the vulnerability we took immediate action and sent a fix to our partners to protect users."

The company also said that it was working on developing a software patch that removes the vulnerability. Zimperium, which shared its findings with Google before releasing them publicly, claims that the process of applying patches will be a lengthy procedure, especially in developing regions where older and more vulnerable versions of Android are used. Android is the most popular mobile operating system around the globe.

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