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Android Phones Subject To Attack Via Text Pics

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Nearly a billion people worldwide use an Android smartphone, and each phone is potentially vulnerable to an ugly virus that attaches through a text message containing a picture or video.

"As soon as it's received by the phone, it does its initial processing that triggers the vulnerability," analyst Joshua Drake told National Public Radio.

You don't even have to open the text for the malware to set in.

"Could be absolutely silent. You may not see anything," added Drake.

Drake is with San Francisco-based Zimperium, a cyber-security firm that focuses on mobile devices.

He says a hacker can steal everything on your phone -- and monitor everything you do.

"It's really up to their imagination on what they do once they get in," he added.

"That's an invasion of my privacy, trying to get all my information. That's not cool at all," says Jameke Jackson of Arlington Heights, a comment frequently heard from Android users.

Will Dormann, a senior vulnerability analyst at the Software Engineering Institute in Oakland, says not all smartphones are equal when it comes to resisting this malware.

"If you have an older phone, it is more vulnerable and easier to attack," Dormann told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean newer androids are particularly safe from attack.

So what can you do?

"Google actually did fix the code," said Dormann. "The bugs are fixed. The problem is there will be a certain amount of time before those fixes actually work their way out to the end users of the products."

In other words, says Dormann, although Google has fixed the software, it's not clear that the manufacturer of your particular cell phone and your cell phone provider have passed on the fix.

Dormann says check with either the manufacturer of your phone or your cell phone service provider.

"If you contact the manufacturer, they will let you know if their particular hardware will get the fix. And then it's up to your network provider to release that fix to you."

For more information on the Android vulnerabilities, visit:

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