Newspaper article International New York Times

Conquering 'Stagefright,' a Bug in Android Devices

Newspaper article International New York Times

Conquering 'Stagefright,' a Bug in Android Devices

Article excerpt

How to protect from a vulnerability by which Android devices could be compromised by malicious code. Also, figuring out the iOS step counter.

Q. What is this Android bug where your device can get hacked with a message? Is there security software to protect me?

A.The "Stagefright bug" was recently discovered by a researcher at the Zimperium security firm, who showed how a vulnerable Android device could be compromised by malicious code embedded in a video sent via Multimedia Messaging Service, or MMS. According to Zimperium, at least 950 million Android devices were at risk from the Stagefright bug, which affects versions of the software as far back as Android 2.2 (Froyo).

After the Exodus Intelligence research firm found problems with the original update, a patch for the patch was created and should be on the way from Google, Motorola and various wireless carriers. Install any update when you are notified one is ready for your phone or tablet. If you have not been notified about an update, check manually in the system's settings or contact your carrier to ask about Stagefright patches.

Free apps that test your device for vulnerability to the Stagefright bug are also available in the Google Play store. If you want to scan your device with such an app, it is a good idea to get one from a known mobile-security company like Lookout or Zimperium. While these apps do not fix the problem, they can tell whether you have the problem to begin with.

As for security software to protect your device from general threats, several companies offer apps designed to detect and thwart malware on mobile gadgets.

Some of the more full-featured security apps include other tools like parental controls, call blockers and message filters. The AV- Test site has a roundup and ratings for current Android security products at: www. …

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