Don’t want pranksters ‘bricking’ your Android? Just stop using the internet …

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Don’t want pranksters ‘bricking’ your Android? Just stop using the internet, duh – Google.

Android smartphones are vulnerable to hacking, but precautions can limit the danger. Answer: A number of newly discovered vulnerabilities in a central Android software component called Stagefright — which is used to play, process or record multimedia files — could affect up to 95 percent of Android users.

According to the security researcher who discovered the problem, any Android device running versions 2.2 through 5.1.1_r4 could be exploited through MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service messages. The vulnerability stems from an integer overflow bug in Android’s media server service, which can be exploited by a malformed video file in a Matroska container.

When Android tries to index the file, it crashes, bringing the rest of the operating system down with it. “Ransomware is likely to use this vulnerability as a new ‘threat’ for users: in addition to encrypting data on the device, the device itself would be locked out and unable to be used. If you open a malicious MMS message, you could provide complete access to your phone to hackers, allowing them to access anything on your phone or wipe everything out. When the phone is directed to the site – something that’s easy enough to do for a reasonably confident social engineer – the phone suffered similar problems.

The media server vulnerability is being treated as a low priority. “We want to thank the researcher for their report as it helps strengthen Android’s security. With this in mind, waiting for the phone manufacturers and carriers to deliver the fix will leave you vulnerable, so here are a few things that can provide protection in the meantime: Turn off the auto-download or auto-retrieval feature on your messaging app. While our team is monitoring closely for potential exploitation, we’ve seen no evidence of actual exploitation,” Google told The Register in a statement. “Should there be an actual exploit of this, the only risk to users is temporary disruption to media playback on their device.

The danger comes when your phone tries to process a rigged MMS message, so preventing messages from getting onto your phone is the best way to protect yourself until a fix is installed. Because any random hacker can target you simply by knowing your phone number, it’s extremely important that you pay attention to who is sending you messages.

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