WhatsApp (File Photo)
Fake news and hoaxes have become an inevitable part of social networking sites. From a series of unverified forwarded messages to some captivating new updates, users find it hard to differentiate between genuine messages and hoaxes. The latest such bluff is about a malware dubbed 'Agent Smith', where around 25 million Android devices were infected without even notifying its users.
The software, inspired by the Matrix trilogy, reportedly replaces legitimate installed mobile applications such as WhatsApp with the malicious version, but doesn't steal data of its users. Those malicious apps include photo apps, games or other social media applications and are all created by scammers.
In the wake of this new found malicious software, experts at Check Point Research have been looking for its source and have assumed that an unnamed company based in China's Guangzhou could be the reason behind the same. Users who downloaded third party apps from some unknown sources instead of the Google Play Store are said to be most affected by the malware.
However, users who download apps from the official Google Play Store are not completely safe as there are 11 different apps on the Google Play Store, containing the rogue malware. Though Google has removed these malicious apps from its store, these may still lurk on your device.
"In the first phase, the attacker lures users to download a dropper application from an app store such as 9Apps. These droppers are usually disguised as free games, utility applications or adult entertainment applications, yet contain an encrypted malicious payload," Check Point Research said in a blog post.
"The app then installs the malware on your system, but disguises it as a "Google Updater" tool. Post that it replaces WhatsApp with an infected version of the app on your device. The new app could annoy you with ads, while generating quick cash for crooks," the researchers added.
How to prevent your WhatsApp from ‘Agent Smith’ malware?
In case you start receiving frequent ads while chatting on WhatsApp, you should be extra cautious and look for suspicious items like Google Updater or Google Installer on your app list. If you find one, uninstall it immediately, following the steps mentioned below.
Users who fail to find a suspicious app, are advised to remove all their recently installed apps, including WhatsApp. Before deleting WhatsApp from your app list take a backup of your chats and reinstall it again from the official Google Play Store.