New virus threatens Android devices

A new virus, apparently originating from China, has recently been discovered in the wild, and can allow a hacker to gain access to personal data and force the details to be saved to remote servers. But this virus doesn’t affect Windows, Mac OS, or any similar operating system. Instead, this is a virus that targets Google Android platforms!

A report this week from Lookout Mobile Security said the new Trojan affecting Android devices has been dubbed “Geinimi” and “can compromise a significant amount of personal data on a user’s phone and send it to remote servers.” The firm called the virus “the most sophisticated Android malware we’ve seen to date.”

The virus, once installed, awaits commands from a remote server, which a hacker can use to take control of the phone and steal data from it. Unlike previous Android malware, this malware’s actions are cleverly hidden and obfuscated, meaning that it is hard to work out what it is doing at any point or just where the data is being stored to or the commands received from.

The motive for the virus is not currently clear, but its capabilities mean it could be used for anything from a malicious ad-network to an attempt to create an Android botnet (a botnet is a network of computers and other technology that hackers have taken control of, with the intention to use some or all of the computers at the same time, to perform wider-scale attacks).

The virus is spreading through fake installers of popular games and apps within China that have been modified to include the malware, and the downloads often may appear to be official, legitimate downloads – however, they are not. The REAL ones, which have not been infected, are usually found elsewhere in the store.

There is some relief to be had though. Since all the infected apps so far are of Chinese origin, this means that if you never download Apps coming from China, you can be pretty confident that there is little chance of becoming infected with this virus. But being alert is always the first step to staying safe.

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