Devices that run on Google’s Android operating system have always struggled with security. Last year, for instance, a study by the University of Cambridge concluded that at least one known critical vulnerability affects 87.7 percent of Android devices.
But it seems as if Android devices have been hit by something truly earth-shattering. Tech Times reported that a new malware may have infected more than 1 million Android devices since August – posing a significant threat to the privacy of those device owners.
Widespread malware threatens older operating systems
The malware, known as “Gooligan,” appears to have originated in Asia, according to CNBC. About 57 percent of all infected devices can be found on that continent, while another 15 percent were located in Africa and 19 percent in North and South America. Only nine percent were located in Europe.
“The malware is more dominant in the older version of Android, namely 4 and 5. Though we can’t say for sure why, some sources say the older Android versions are still pretty prevalent in Asia,” Steve McWhirter, vice president of Asia, Middle East and Africa at Check Point Software Technologies, told CNBC.
Even in the rest of the world, the process of updating Android versions is often slow, with consumers taking their time to switch to the latest version. In 2016, Daze Info reported that only 15.2 percent of Android devices were running the newest update operating system – despite it being almost a year old at the time.
It appears that Gooligan works by attaching itself to third-party apps that users can download. Forbes reported that they may opt to download these in order to receive content from the websites they are visiting. Once the virus gains access to a device, it takes over completely, stealing the user’s Google account information, and making it much easier for a hacker to steal that person’s private data.
Interestingly, the true purpose of Gooligan might not be identity theft, but simply an app scam. Forbes noted that it attempts to force users to download additional apps, earning advertising revenue for the app makers. The entire arrangement may earn as much as $320,000 per month, according to the news source.
Secure your devices
No matter what mobile device you own, it is crucial that you take the proper steps to secure it from intrusions of all kinds.
If you own an Android, Business Insider suggested typing your Google address into an online tool called Check Point, which will help you determine whether you have been affected by the Gooligan malware.
For all other devices, it is important to only download apps that come from the official app store, and to stay on recognized, secure Wi-Fi connections when accessing important accounts. In addition, be sure to stay up to date with every security patch that is issued to your device. Some of these close security loopholes, and failure to take advantage of them as soon as possible can lead to serious problems.
We try to be careful whenever we’re online, but no matter how many precautions we take, we can’t guarantee the safety of our identities or privacy. This is why it’s so important to seek out a partner who not only helps protect us, but also helps us navigate the process of restoring our identities if fraud strikes. Learn how Identity Guard can help. With credit monitoring and more, Identity Guard can help you protect what’s yours.