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CONSUMER ALERT
Android Phones Susceptible to Hacking

If you have an Android phone, your phone is probably susceptible to a serious hack.

What is it?
An alleged flaw appears to allow hackers to gain access to your phone by placing malware (malicious software) on your phone simply by sending a text message with media (photos, audio, or videos). Once the malware is on the phone, a hacker may be able to gain control of your phone to wipe the device, access your apps, or even turn on your camera.

How does the malware get on my phone?
All hackers need is your phone number to be able to send you a text laden with malware. Because Android processes media immediately once it is received, the phone can be infected even if you do not open the text message or download anything.

Is your phone susceptible?
If you have an Android operating system from the last five years, your phone is probably susceptible. CNN Money reports that security professionals estimate that 95% of Android phones are at risk.

What do you do?
The best thing you can do is make sure you install any new updates to your phone. Installing updates is one of the best ways to limit your risk to hacking or malware because it ensures your phone (or computer) has the latest patches and security features. But Google, which develops the Android operating system, likely cannot push out a system update directly to your phone. Because Android is merely an operating system used by various smartphone manufacturers, according to NPR’s report on this issue, it will be up to the manufacturer or wireless provider to push out the update. If and when they do, be ready to update your phone.

Also, do not post your phone number online or in publicly accessible places. For this hack to work, hackers just need your number. And if you have kids with phones, tell them not to post their phone numbers online, either.

Who can I contact?
If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your local police department, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Visit our website at www.mass.gov/consumer or contact our Consumer Information Hotline at (617) 973-8787 for more information on how to react to scams and identity theft.

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