If you have an Android phone and have purchased third-party apps from outside of the more well-known app stores, you may have put your device at risk from an ingenious new malware that makes it look like you’ve shut off your phone, but instead has only simulated the shutdown with identical shut off animations. Once the screen goes black and you forget about it, the malware kicks in and roots around through your device, accessing your data. Even scarier, the malware can use your phone to make outgoing calls, take pictures, and utilize a host of other features.
This malware, called the PowerOffHijack, was first spotted by AVG, who explained how it worked on their blog post. Their team believes it originated in China and is spreading via apps that originated within the country, estimating that as many as 10,000 devices have already been infected.
There are a couple of ways to know if you’re safe, even if you don’t have a clear way to know if your phone is infected. If you’re running a version of Android that’s at least v.5, you should be all right; at the same time, if your phone has not been modified (jailbroken) to allow different forms of functionality, then you’re probably okay, too.
The only issue is some retailers sell their phones with this level of functionality already in place, so you may not be aware of the potential danger. Finally, if you’ve only downloaded apps from the Google Play store, you’re probably safe as well since that app store is not available in China.
For now, there’s no patch to combat the PowerOffHijack’s capabilities. Experts are currently recommending users physically remove their batteries when they power off their phones, at least until a patch can be made available.
[Image via Roaming Required]