NEWS

'Mazar' SMS Virus Hands Over Control Of An Android Smartphone To Hackers

18/02/2016 16:02 | Updated 18 February 2016

A Danish security firm has highlighted a potentially devastating new virus which is being spread via text message to Android phones.

sms

The virus exclusively attacks Android smartphones.

Called Mazar, the delivery system is dangerously simple, a text or MMS message with the following contents:

"You have received a multimedia message from +[country code] [sender number] Follow the link *link here* to view the message."

As soon as the user clicks on the link the malware is downloaded to the smartphone immediately handing over the phone's administrator privileges to the hacker.

Once that's done they'll have the ability to lock the phone, read messages, wipe it and generally just do whatever they want.

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According to Heimdal Security the message has been received by over 100,000 smartphones in Denmark alone. Interestingly the bot has been written to leave users with Russian-language phones completely untouched suggesting that the virus originated from that country.

So what can you do to protect yourself from the virus? Heimdal lists a number of steps that can be taken to make sure that Android is properly protected:

  • First of all, NEVER click on links in SMS or MMS messages on your phone. Android phones are notoriously vulnerable and current security product dedicated to this OS are not nearly as effective as they are on computers.
  • Install a top antivirus for Android. It may not be enough to protect your phone, but it’s certainly good to have. You can find top-rated options in this article.
  • Do not connect to unknown and unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots. There are plenty of dangers lurking out there, and following some common-sense steps to keep yourself safe from them is the best thing to do. Also, keep your Wi-Fi turned OFF when you don’t use it.
  • Install a VPN on your smartphone and use constantly. It’s good for both your privacy and your security.
  • Maintain a cautious attitude at all times. Android security has not kept up with the high adoption rate of smartphones running the OS, and users may have to wait a long time until better security solutions appear. Until then, a careful evaluation of what happens on your phone is a very good safeguard.
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