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Android malware that spreads via text message has been observed making its way around Russia — not the newest trick in the book, but it hasn't been seen before on the mobile OS. Should you be worried?
Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to be vigilant.
The worm was first observed by Robert Lipovsky of ESET, a mobile security outfit, and is known to the company's malware detection app as Samsapo.A. It's a malcious APK file (the type used to distribute applications on Android) that, once downloaded, sends texts to your whole address book in an attempt to infect your friends. Similar scams have used email or social media messaging to accomplish much the same thing.
"Is this your photo?" the text reads — in Russian, naturally — and next to that is a link, which leads to a copy of the malicious app. Anyone who installs it will have all their data sent to a remote server (and sold to spammers, no doubt), and may have premium SMS fees appear on their phone bill — a well-known tactic for making money off mobile malware.
But don't worry. First of all, the malware is limited to Russia for now, where premium SMS services and shady apps are commonplace. Second, most phones disallow apps from being installed unless they're from an official store. And last, even if you got one of these texts, you'd still have to follow the link and hit "accept" or "OK" a couple times before the software takes hold.
Still, forewarned is forearmed when it comes to things like viruses and malware. Samsapo.A isn't likely to cross over into the U.S., but if it does, you'll be prepared.