Millions of Android phones have been hit by malware that has been installing apps and spying on the browsing habits of users. Even worse, creators are making around $300,000 a month for it! Most of the phones that have been compromised are found in China, though there are examples worldwide.
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There has been a spike in the number of phones infected by the malware family called Shedun by Lookout and Hummingbad by Checkpoint.
Checkpoint mentioned in a blog post that is obtained access to the command-and-control servers that watch over infected phones showed that Hummingbad is on 10 million phones. Most of these phones fall in China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Hummingbad roots itself deep inside of the operating system so that it doesn't get detected and it gives the controllers complete control over it.
The ability to control these phones has been used to click on ads that will make them seem more popular than they are. It has also been used to promote programs and install fake versions of apps.
"It can remain persistent even if the user performs a factory reset," wrote Kristy Edwards from Lookout in a blog post. "It uses its root privileges to install additional apps onto the device, further increasing ad revenue for the authors and defeating uninstall attempts."
Most of the cases take advantage of loopholes in the older Android operating systems known as KitKat and JellyBean. The new version, Marshmallow, provides some protection.
In a statement, Google said: "We've long been aware of this evolving family of malware and we're constantly improving our systems that detect it. We actively block installations of infected apps to keep users and their information safe."
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