Stagefright exploit is still relatively new, but hopefully by the end of this post you will understand what it is and how you can protect you device from being potentially hacked.
What is Stagefright?
Stagefright is simply a bug that makes the Android operating system vulnerable.
Originally, Stagefright hit headlines in 2015 when it became known that the Android MMS service could be facing some issues that could cause potential problems in the future. It was discovered that any software up to 5.1 was considered vulnerable with messages sent through Google Hangouts also being affected.
As soon as the news broke out, Google took immediate action to patch up the security exploit and most devices should have made secure by now. If you are concerned about your device, then there are a couple of things you could do to ensure that your device is not still under threat.
Using an App
Fortunately, there is an app available on the Play Store that you can use to check if your device could be potentially threatened by the exploit.
Zimperium a cyber security firm that initially discovered the exploit, released an app called the Stagefright Detector. The app is safe to install on to your device and does not retain any of your personal data.
Though the app does not tell you if a device is infected, it does however notify you about the device's potential vulnerability to the exploit.
Download the app from the Play Store to your device. Launch the app then tap Begin Analysis. The app will then begin the process of checking the susceptibility of you device to the exploit. A bright red bar showing Vulnerable will appear if your device is capable of being exploited. That is all you need to verify where your device stands.
If you find that your device is susceptible to the exploit, then check the next step to see how you can best block any access hackers may have. If an OS update is available, then it is advisable to download it to your device to prevent any access to potential hackers.
Disable MMS Auto-Retrieve
So how can you protect yourself from the bug? The patch should have already been rolled out to most devices, but for those still worried about the security of their devices or you its powered by an outdated firmware, then continue reading.
The best way is to first open the Messaging app on your device, go to its Settings menu and disable the MMS Auto-Retrieve feature. The same is also recommended for the Google Hangouts service, if its available on your device.
This means that to have messages downloaded on your device, you will need to manually tap on them, rather than them being automatically downloaded from the server.
A Second Coming of Stagefright?
The Zimperium team found that the latest exploit could potentially affect up to a billion Android handsets. But perhaps, as a cyber security firm, it could be in their best interests to focus on the threat discussion as much as possible.
This time around, the vulnerability became apparent in the metadata processing found in MP3 and MP4 files that were hacked, which if a suspicious URL was clicked by mistake or over a public Wi-Fi network, would allow hackers to obtain your information.
Should the New Exploit Worry You?
Should you be concerned about the exploit? Honestly, not yet. Google has been quick in fixing any issues that might have arised, and also there were no previous exploit cases confirmed prior to Zimperium's revelation. If you remain aware of this issue, then its improbable that hackers will have access to your device or steal your personal information.
If you own an older device that isn't running on the latest firmware then exercise caution when downloading any media from unknown online resources.
What are some of the ways to protect your device from being hacked? Let us know in the comments.