Security alert as millions of Android phones targeted by potent virus

It’s true in the online world, which is increasingly accessed using mobile devices, that as soon as something becomes wildly popular it’s going to be a target for hackers and all manner of attacks. Android, the leading smartphone operating system that is therefore hugely important to ecommerce sales, is now feeling the negative effect of its popularity.

It’s believed that in the United States alone, at least 4 million phones running Android software have been hit by the NotCompatible virus, and the mobile security company Lookout has warned that the cybercriminals behind it have rewritten the malware’s code to make it difficult to eliminate.

What’s unusual about NotCompatible is how long it’s been around – over two years, and counting. Ordinary malware targeting mobile devices normally lasts a week or two, as patches and other fixes are quickly developed to prevent them from infecting devices. Lookout said a third version of NotCompatible is now in circulation and quickly immersing itself in Android phones.

Once there, the virus connects the phone to a massive network – a botnet – that can be used for different types of criminal activity, including buying up large amounts of tickets for events that would later be resold at higher prices, sending out enormous amounts of spam, and even attacking blogs using the popular WordPress content management system.

So how does an Android phone become infected? The malicious code is contained in various websites, and once a user logs on to one, it’s automatically downloaded to their phone and the person is none the wiser. The virus is also being spread by spam. People with Android phones are advised that if they download an app and it then wants to download a security update before it runs, that’s cause for alarm.

Indeed, it’s because of the popularity of smartphones and the rising levels of transactions being done on the devices, including via Magento ecommerce sites, that criminals are increasingly targeting them. So it’s essential to take maximum security measures to try and ward off any threats. Always make sure you’re running updated antivirus software and if you suspect something is wrong, get help immediately.

Photo: Dropbox by Johan Larsson licensed under Creative commons 4