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Written by Michael Plis. Your go-to source for smart technology & cybersecurity insights for small business. 

  • Writer's pictureMichael Plis

‘Agent Smith’ malware infects 25 million Android devices globally

Updated: May 16

Originally published here on 17July 2019

woman with sunglasses behind matrix code
Just like Agent Smith in the movie Matrix (c), so this virus impersonates genuine apps on Android.

What’s happened?

Australian Android users are warned not to download mobile apps from third party app stores following reports of malware known as ‘Agent Smith’ infecting 25 million Android devices globally.

Definition from Cyberkite: Android is the operating system of a lot of popular brands like Samsung, HTC, Oppo, Huawei, Google Pixel, etc.

How it works?

Android devices are infected when the user installs an app, often a game app from a third party site (meaning an app not from the Google Play Store), which contains this malicious software (malware).

  • The ‘Agent Smith’ malware then searches an infected device for other apps it can feed on, replacing them with malicious, cloned versions without the user’s knowledge.

  • ‘Agent Smith’ is capable of replicating mobile apps like WhatsApp, web browser Opera and virtual keyboard SwiftKey.

Through the replicated apps, ‘Agent Smith’ displays fake advertisements that are used by cybercriminals to steal your money or personal information. By impersonating existing apps on a user’s device – and leveraging the permissions a user has granted to the real apps – cybercriminals could also hijack sensitive information like your banking password or other online logins.


How do I stay safe?

  1. If you think you may have downloaded an app containing ‘Agent Smith’, Android users can go to Settings, then click on Apps or Application Manager, scroll to the suspected app and uninstall it.

  2. If it can’t be found then remove all recently installed apps.

  3. Note from Cyberkite: Also before installing any apps via the Play Store - always read the reviews for any comments that the app is fake. If still unsure, google the name of the app and go to the genuine company page that talks about the app and follow the relevant link there.

  4. Note from Cyberkite: Do not allow installation of apps from third party sources - you're not protected by Google's protection mechanisms on the Play Store. Some people figure out how to turn off the protection to allow installation of apps not available on the google Play Store - for example they install the Game Fortnite or Install a Pornography app or something that would not be available on the Google Play Store. Our advice - if you are not a hacker or programmer or developer - then stick to installing Android apps from the Google Play Store only 👌

  5. Note from Cyberkite: If you need a through Cybersecurity Check - book Cyberkite for a session onsite (in Melbourne, Australia) or remotely (Worldwide) - Booking Centre: cyberkite.com.au/booksession (sign up and login required for your safety)

Further advice to stay safe when dealing with apps:

  • Never download apps from third party sites or from links in emails, social media, text messages or websites.

  • Use legitimate app stores such as Google Play for Android (for Android phones) or Apple’s App Store (for ipads and iphones)

  • Don’t click on app adverts as they may contain malicious software – and consider installing a reputable ad blocker from a legitimate app store that will stop you seeing most ads.

  • Keep your devices and apps updated with the latest software whenever updates are available – and set updates to install automatically wherever possible.

  • More information Learn more about safely downloading online apps.

  • Read more about malicious advertising.


Copyright: © 2019 Australian Government.

All rights reserved.

With a few notes from Cyberkite.

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About Michael Plis

 

Michael is a technology and cybersecurity professional with over 18 years of experience. He offers unique insights into the benefits and potential risks of technology from a neurodivergent perspective. He believes that technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master. In his blog articles, Michael helps readers better understand and use technology in a beneficial way. He is also a strong supporter of mental health initiatives and advocates for creating business environments that promote good mental health.

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Cyberkite blog is your go-to source for smart technology and cybersecurity insights for small business. Stay ahead of the curve with our expert tips and strategies, and join the Cyberkite community by subscribing today!

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed by Michael or any blog assistants on this blog are his/their own and may not necessarily reflect the views of Cyberkite. Michael is neurodiverse so he needs the assistance of voice typing and AI tools to help him write and edit blog articles to and get them completed. Also we use open source images from Unsplash and Pixabay and we try to include credit to the artist of each image. Michael shares his opinions based on his extensive experience in the IT and Cybersecurity industry, learning from the world's top subject matter experts and passing on this knowledge to his audience in the hopes of benefiting them. If there is a mistake or something needs to be corrected please message using the green chat window bottom right hand corner or contact him through social media by searching for Michael Plis blogger. 

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