Hundreds of thousands of Australian Android users may have downloaded a new form malware that hides in plain sight on their smartphones.
The malware has been dubbed “Agent Smith” after Hugo Weaving’s character from The Matrix, and experts warn it is “spreading at alarming rates”.
Cybersecurity firm Check Point said the new variant of mobile malware has infected around 25 million devices worldwide, with many users unaware that virus is currently on their device.
“Disguised as a Google related application, the core part of the malware exploits various known Android vulnerabilities and automatically replaces installed apps on the device with malicious versions without the user’s interaction,” explained Check Point.
The malware is currently using its broad access to the device’s resources to show fraudulent ads for financial gain, however it could be “used for far more intrusive and harmful purposes such as banking credential theft and eavesdropping”.
Check Point added its ability to impersonate existing user-trusted popular apps created endless possibilities for this sort of malware to harm a user’s device.
The malware gains broad access to a device’s resources and uses it to show fraudulent ads for financial gain.
But the access could also be “used for far more intrusive and harmful purposes such as banking credential theft and eavesdropping,” Check Point warned.
It said the malware’s ability to impersonate existing popular apps created endless possibilities to cause havoc on a user’s device.
The malware is hidden inside content downloaded from third-party app stores, as they often lack the security measures required to block adware loaded apps.
Most affected apps are free games or utility and adult entertainment applications.
Some apps Agent Smith is capable of replicating include WhatsApp, web browser Opera and SwiftKey.
“With such a devious infection method of replacing existing device apps with the malicious version of those apps, users are reminded that apps should only be downloaded from trusted app stores to mitigate the risk of infection,” he said.
If you have been infected by apps such as those described in “Agent Smith”, here is how to remove them:
2. Click on Apps or Application Manager
3.Scroll to the suspected app and uninstall it
4. If it can’t be found then remove all recently installed apps
2. Scroll to ‘Safari’
3. On the list of options, ensure that ‘block pop-ups’ is elected
4. Then go to ‘Advanced’ -> ‘Website Data’. 5. For any unrecognised sites listed, delete this site
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019