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Warning: 950 million smartphones can be hacked with a text

Warning: 950 million smartphones can be hacked with a text
OlegDoroshin / Shutterstock.com

A very serious bug in Android nicknamed "Stagefright" could let a hacker take over your phone by sending you a text message. In some cases, you don't even have to open or look at the message to be hacked.

A cybercriminal can create a short video encrypted with the malware and then send it to your phone. The bug would start to attack your Android's hardware as soon as the message is received on your gadget, and there's not much you can do to prevent it.

"This happens even before the sound that you've received a message has even occurred," Joshua Drake, security researcher with Zimperium and co-author of Android Hacker's Handbook, told NPR.

And once the hackers gain access, Drake says that they can do just about anything they could imagine. From hacking onto your mobile banking app to using your Android's microphone to record your private conversation, the way this flaw could be exploited is virtually limitless.

According to the International Data Corporation, over 80% of the world's smartphones run on an Android operating system. This means millions and millions of people are left waiting to see if they are going to be targeted by vicious cyberthieves.

There is some good news in the midst of the chaos. Google released a statement thanking Drake for his findings and then announced that it has released a patch for "Stagefright" that will be sent to you Android gear with the next system update.

The bad news is that system updates vary for each individual phone model. Some carriers or manufacturers will roll it out fast while others take their time. Some older phones probably won't get it for a while, or even at all. Hopefully, though the seriousness of this bug will cause carriers and manufacturers to push it out sooner rather than later.

Until then, we just have to wait and hope that hackers remain unaware or uninterested in the flaw. There has been no recorded attack by cybercriminals involving this bug, and we're keep our fingers crossed it stays that way.

You can also give yourself a little more protection from cybercriminals looking to invade your smartphone by using your Android's preloaded messaging app. If you use a messaging app like Google Hangouts, in which videos and pictures automatically upload, it'll be that much harder to stop a malicious bug hidden in a media file.

Make sure you stay tuned to what's Happening Now for any updates about this massive cyberbreach. We'll keep you updated and informed so you won't be trapped by bugs, viruses, cyberthreats and hacks.

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Source: NPR
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