Texting is our number one smartphone activity. Malware authors are well aware that most of us text constantly throughout our day and are coming up with new SMS malware scams designed to take advantage of our passion for texting. Here’s what you need to know about SMS malware and—most importantly—how to fight it.
The SMS (short message service, or “texting”) feature on mobile phones give us a uniquely personal way of staying in instant contact without having to email or speak back and forth. Any time there’s a feature this popular, someone will try to exploit it, and SMS is no different. NQ Mobile recently announced the discovery of two different malware threats—Updtbot and TigerBot—that use SMS messages as a vehicle for malicious activities.
Why should you care? For starters, if you’re infected, you might be hit with a sky-high smartphone bill if scammers use the malware to make premium calls from your phone. And then there’s the issue of privacy— scammers are also using SMS malware to steal your data. For example, they’ll get hold of your contacts and photos, and then use this data to contact your friends and family members, pretending to be you. The possibilities are endless for malware authors so, if you own a smartphone, take the time to understand the risks and take the necessary steps to protect yourself against them.
UpdtBot Malware Makes Costly Calls
Updtbot poses as a prompt to upgrade your smartphone system. Once clicked, it goes to work in the background, making unauthorized premium calls at your expense. It rides in on an innocent incoming text message, and proliferates by piggybacking onto one of your outgoing texts.
TigerBot Malware Records Your Every Move
TigerBot, specially designed for Android systems, disguises itself as an innocent system file. Its job is to record your phone’s sounds, capture and upload your photos and GPS settings, and it will generally wreak havoc on your phone. But, maybe the most insidious task is that it intercepts and uses your phone’s SMS system, all through remote control.
What Do Scammers Get Out of SMS Malware?
Malware for SMS is a hit with cybercriminals because it’s profitable. When infected, your smartphone can send hundreds of text messages to premium numbers at your expense, and you may not know it until you see your bill. SMS malware can also:
- Provide scammers with a gateway to important personal data, as well as a convenient way for malware to enter your smartphone, allowing a remote server to take control of your system.
- Install uninvited apps on your system, make changes to your settings, steal your contacts and even reboot your phone.
Protect Yourself from SMS Malware
We wouldn’t trade texting for anything—it’s a fast, fun and convenient way to communicate. And while dancing around sketchy links, suspicious files and shady ads sometimes seems impossible, it’s not. By taking a few steps to prevent malware, you can text all you want and not have to worry about pesky malware on your phone. Here’s what to do:
- Download a powerful mobile security product (you won’t find anything better than NQ Mobile Security—and it’s free) that will catch and eliminate malware before it reaches your phone’s system. This is the strongest, most carefree way to stay malware-free. If you have good mobile protection, you won’t even need to wonder if that upgrade alert is real, or if a new file is authentic.
- Buy your apps and make other purchases from legitimate sources only. Don’t click on an ad, or fall for a “free” product, just because the offer appears on your screen. Make a habit of ignoring and deleting anything uninvited.
Have you encountered SMS malware? Tell us about your experience with a comment on our blog or join the conversation on Facebook.