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Stagefright: Protect Your Phone From The Scary Android Security Flaw

Thursday, August 6th, 2015 by | Filed Under: Android, Security Help, Smartphones
 
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A researcher has discovered a scary flaw with Android phones, all tied to Google’s Stagefright. Stagefright is the media playback tool portion of Android’s open-source code.  It helps phones translate the multi-media portions of messages, like text and video. This flaw puts 950 million devices at risk. And the worst part is that these flaws have been around for years.  If you’re using a phone newer than Android 2.2, you’re at risk.

The flaw is actually a group of bugs that work in a similar fashion, but have been nick-named Stagefright after the portion of Android code that they affect.  This bug means that someone could infect your phone just by sending you a Multimeda message. If you’re using Google Hangouts, you don’t even have to open the darn thing for it to hit your phone.

These messages could steal your contacts and data and then disappear so fast, you might not even know it happened. Like any good virus, is could replicate itself quickly by using your contact information.

Google has a patch, but each phone maker needs to distribute the patch individually to its users. You can check with your carrier to see if there’s one ready yet for your phone, but in most cases there isn’t.

However, you can make changes in apps receive MMS. On most Android phones this means Messaging and Google Hangouts.  Messaging is likely the app you use to retrieve your text messages.

android-messaging-icon

Click the menu icon and then choose Settings.

android-messaging-settings

Go to Multimedia messages.

android-messaging-mms

Uncheck the box beside Auto-retrieve.

android-messaging-auto-retrieve

This way you’ll have to approve any multimedia messages before they’re downloaded onto your phone. You can do the same thing in the Google Hangouts app.

~ Cynthia

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One Response to “Stagefright: Protect Your Phone From The Scary Android Security Flaw”

  1. […] Last week, I told you about Stagefright, a scary flaw that leaves your Android phone vulnerable to malicious attacks. In some circumstances, a hacker could take control of your phone by sending a message that you don’t even have to open. […]

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