Our phones are meant to help us in many ways besides just making calls and texting. They also allow us to write and send emails, browse the internet, play games and so much more.
For many of us, we could not imagine life without our phones by our sides or in our pockets. The idea of being away from our phones and any calls, texts or news is frightening. Sure, we understand it may not exactly be healthy, but that's just the way life is today.
While being dependent on our phones may be a problem in itself, there is even more to worry about than we thought.
Your phone is used against you
It is really no surprise that scammers try to take advantage of our need to be connected and available at all times. But unlike some scams that rely on phishing for information by convincing you to provide it to fake and dangerous websites, this latest kind breaks into apps to try and steal data such as photos, contacts, SIM card information and nearby Wi-Fi networks. Perhaps even scarier, it also makes live recordings that get sent to someone who will use what they gather to try and extort or blackmail you.
The new malware, called "RedDrop," affects Android phones and has been discovered in more than 50 apps coming from a network of at least 4,000 domains for third-party app stores. Common apps like image editors and calculators are among them.
So what happens?
It all starts when you download an infected app that looks legitimate and even provides the expected functionality. You may not notice there is anything wrong since most apps normally ask for certain permissions once downloaded, but this malware requests access to apps that only need to be opened once in order to continually run.
Once opened, the infected app will go on to download more APKs that will devastate your phone by taking sensitive data while also recording its audio and sharing photos, contacts and other files. Every time you use the app, which appears to be working the way it is supposed to, the malware will send a text message to an expensive premium service.
What's scary is the messages get deleted almost as soon as they are sent, so while this is all happening and the stolen information is sent to a remote file storage system, you will be unaware it is even happening.
What can you do?
Newer versions of Google's OS, like Oreo, do a better job of alerting us to apps that are requesting invasive permissions. But if you do not want to update your Android or already have, the best thing you can do is disallow third-party downloads and only get your apps from the Play Store. Otherwise, you should be mindful of the permissions new apps are requesting and will want to avoid rooting your device.
This specific malware is unique in its maliciousness as well as its sophistication. It is fairly widespread, and something you absolutely want to avoid.
Android folks will make iPhone people jealous with this new feature
As the Oreo OS finally makes its way to every Android phone, attention is already starting to turn toward what Android's next OS, known only as "P," will bring to the table. Well, one rumor going around says an important security feature may be on the way. Click here to learn about what it is.