An estimated ten million Android smartphones all over the world are thought to be infected with new malware called HummingBad.
The aggressive software was developed by a group of Chinese cyber criminals and was first discovered by security speciality Check Point earlier this year.
It was specified that the malware establishes a persistent rootkit with the intention of generating fraudulent ad revenue for its perpetrator. In addition to this, it also installs fraudulent apps to increase the fraudster's revenue streams.
Several groups were found to be evolving their methods in an effort to ensure the malware remains persistent after the initial infection. This comes in the wake of a series of new malware discoveries, including BrainTest, PushGhost and Xinyinhe.
Check Point identified the group behind HummingBad as Yingmob, which is also behind an iOS malware called Yispecter. Both malicious apps build revenue by creating databases of devices and selling access to the data stored on them to the highest bidder.
If you are worried about your smartphone being infected, there are steps you can take to find out whether or not this is the case. There is also a comparatively straightforward fix – and there are ways to minimise your chance of exposure.
How to find HummingBad
Just as installing antivirus software on a desktop computer or laptop has become commonplace, it is increasingly essential on a smartphone.
These devices are becoming more sophisticated and should be seen as small handheld computers. Indeed, they typically hold more personal data than the traditional computer – so extra care should be taken accordingly.
There are many antivirus and anti-malware apps available for Android users – simply weigh up the pros and cons of each and buy the one you trust most.
Most of these apps will be able to at least identify whether or not HummingBad is present on the smartphone.
Back up files
Antivirus apps have not been entirely successful in removing HummingBad from smartphones.
The good news is that there is a relatively quick and easy way to get it off your device anyway. The bad news is that it involves a full factory reset.
This means you will have to back up your files and contacts, save all the treasured memories in your photo album to a hard drive or the cloud, write down your favourite apps – and then finally perform a full reset on your phone.
Once this has been done – or if you have not been infected – then prevention is the best way of avoiding the issue in future.
The most common way for malware to infect a smartphone is through an app that has been installed from a compromised source.
While most Android users only install apps from the Google Play store, the importance of only doing this and being vigilant as to the status of the developer cannot be overstated.
Although this may not quite keep your phone virus-free 100 per cent of the time, it is a good way to ensure a certain level of security.