Android security is hitting the headlines this week following a report from cybersecurity firm Zimperium that suggests Android phones can be infected with a picture message, allowing hackers to take complete control of a phone. Before you panic, here's how to avoid the Android MMS virus. Also see: How to remove a virus from Android.
We should note that although there is a patch for the flaw, known as Stagefright and to which some 950 million devices are said to be vulnerable, the various flavours of Android in use and the need for both mobile operators and phone manufacturers to be involved in any software updates makes it impossible for Google to automatically roll out a patch to all Android users. Those using older handsets will likely never get the patch.
Traditionally, Android malware comes through the installation of dodgy apps outside of the protected walls of Google Play. However, it's also possible to attach malware to a multimedia message, which will download to your phone once you view the message. Also see: Best Android antivirus apps.
A simple solution, you might think, would be to keep your wits about you and not to open and immediately delete any suspicious-looking messages. But that's not always so easy; Hangouts, which will be the default messaging app for many Android users, by default automatically processes incoming media messages without your input. Other messaging apps may also be set to auto-retrieve multimedia messages by default, and you should check this is not the case with whichever app you happen to be using.
If you're using Hangouts as the default messaging app, you can either use a different messaging app or you can stop it automatically retrieving multimedia messages. We'll look at how to do so below. Also see: Best Android phones 2015.
How to protect Android from Stagefright MMS virus - Change the default messaging app in Android