In case you haven’t heard recently there is currently a virus going around effecting over and estimated 1 billion android mobile phone devices.
The virus is called “Stagefright” and currently there is no real protection against it, but there is a way to slow it down significantly.
I usually don’t write much about mobile phones but due to the widespread severity of this nuisance and having to help friends with it over the past week I decided to make this post.
What make Stagefright so significant
Stagefright is the biggest virus thread to ever hit mobile phones. What makes it so bad is that all someone has to do is know your mobile phone number and send you a message and they can pretty much have access to all your data, phone numbers and yes pictures and movies on your phone.
The way your Android mobile phone works is when someone sends you a message using your phone number, your devices automatically starts downloading the MMS without you knowing and doing so and has the message sitting there in your phone waiting for you to look at it.
Although this is great not having to wait for the whole message to download before you read it, it is also very bad if the message is a virus in disguise like Stagefright is.
How do you protect yourself from Stagefright
Although they have not released a patch to protect you from this menace, there is a way to slow it down by stopping your MMS messages opening automatically when someone sends it to you.
The following will show you how to hopefully stop the virus starting, but this does no show you how to remove it once active on your system.
SO LETS TURN OFF AUTO RETRIEVE MMS:
Option 1: If you are using your native message app on your phone (the one that comes with your phone).
- Open your message app and click more at the top right hand side of the screen.
- Click on Settings
- Click on More Settings
- Click on Multimedia Messages
- Turn of Auto Retrieve
Option 2: If you are using Hangouts to administer your messages.
- Open Hangouts and click on the menu in the top left hand corner
- Click on Settings
- Click on SMS
- Go to Auto Retrieve MMS and uncheck it.
NOTE: Although this is not a complete solution to stopping nor removing Stagefright it is a good strategy to stop it running automatically and doing so significantly reducing the chances of it affecting your system.
The problem with Android updates affecting mobile phone security
I am not going to get into what is better here, Android, Windows or Iphone. To tell you the truth I have and like them both.
But when it comes to security there is a major flaw in the Android Ecosystem.
Unlike Windows and iPhones who release their own updates for problems which you probably get on your phone a day or two after release, the same can not be said for Android phones.
You will probably notice if you have an Android phone, you only ever get one or two major updates for the entire life of your phone, and they are usually 6 months or longer after Google release them.
Why it takes so long to get Android updates
Google is responsible for the Android Operating System and when they have finished making updates to the O/S they send it out. The problem is, there are hundreds of different network and even more different types of Android devices out there.
Your carrier, be it Optus, Telstra, Virgin etc then do their own changes to the Android device which sometimes takes longer than 6 months or even gets skipped, before you the end user gets it. In the mean time another update or two has come out and you still haven’t got the old update yet.
This causes a major bottleneck in the security of your phone and with the latest updates you have on your device.