MILLIONS of Android users are being warned about new malware that could add huge costs to victims’ phone bills.
Security experts discovered the trojan malware on multiple applications available in Android app stores and they say it has already tried to infect thousands of users.
The newly detected malware, known as SMSFactory, was revealed on Wednesday, after it was uncovered by the cybersecurity company Avast Software.
“SMSFactory sneakily siphons money from victims around the world…by sending premium SMS and making calls to premium-rate phone numbers,” the cybersecurity experts explained in a blog post.
Avast says over the last 12 months, it has “protected” more than 165,000 people who user its cybersecurity software from SMSFactory.
According to Avast, SMSFactory has gone after phones in several countries, including Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Ukraine, the US, France and Spain.
If the malware successfully makes it onto a user’s phone, it can be used to send premium SMS and other costly functions, which can lead to excessive charges.
The malware uses malicious advertising to discreetly redirect users to a website where they are unknowingly prompted to download the malicious app.
“Once installed, the user is met with a welcome screen,” Avast writes.
“Clicking accept will activate the app’s malicious behavior.”
Once the malicious app is activated, the user will see a basic menu of videos, adult content and games that either don’t work or aren’t available.
The trojan threat is difficult to detect once it’s downloaded, so users may not even realize it’s there.
“SMSFactory uses several tricks to stay on the victim’s device and remain undetected,” the experts at Avast said.
“It is evident the malware relies on the user forgetting the app on their phone.”
Avast said the amount of money the app can siphon from users varies.
Through its testing, the cybersecurity company observed instances of daily $1 charges, which were accrued through ten premium SMS messages sent using the malware.
Those $1 daily charges would continue to add up as long as the app remains on the phone undetected, and could result in nearly $30 in extra charges per month.
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