Three new types of malware strains especially designed to attack Android devices can infect apps that are most used by mobile phone users, and there are no methods to fix the problem. Tech experts claim that owners of infected handsets can only discard the devices and buy new ones,
If that is the case, we may soon see a surge in users switching to iOS-powered devices.
Cyber-security experts at Lookout explained that the new strains of malware can automatically install themselves as system apps. This is why wiping them through a ‘factory data reset’ is virtually impossible. Experts view the new strains as a “worrying development in the Android ecosystem.”
Researchers found that more than 20,000 apps can be infected including Facebook app, Twitter, Snapchat, Google Now, WhatsApp, and popular mobile games such as Candy Crush.
The three malicious strains, which were dubbed ShiftyBug, Shedun, and Shuanet), are very similar but seem to have different authors. All bugs enter the system through known exploits that can allow them to root themselves in. Additionally, all three strains were built from the same pieces of code, experts reported.
Michael Bentley, one of the security experts who analyzed the malware, believes that the new Android malware infection may alter functionality of mobile devices in such a manner that there would be no way out than buying a new phone.
Researchers also found that the malware infections affected handsets in the U.S., Indonesia, India, Iran, Sudan, Russia, Brazil, Germany, and Mexico. But other countries may also be affected.
In most of these countries, iOS systems are becoming more popular. For instance, Indonesia and India’s “last quarter progress” really impressed Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.
Cyber security experts found that the infected apps were first downloaded from Google Play, and reposted to other sites where Android users usually harvested their favorite apps. Apple argued on various occasions that this method of allowing apps to be downloaded from third party sites posed a major security risk.
Yet, Apple’s statements were ridiculed by Android developers and fans since the App Store ecosystem is as restrictive as a “Walled Garden.”
Experts also noted that the new malware is especially dangerous to businesses. Corporate users can be infected if they use repackaged enterprise apps from third party app sites. Researchers are also concerned that when the auto-root malware takes over a device they gain ‘escalated privileges,’ so they can access data that would be otherwise impossible to access.
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