Most hacker-related stories regarding Android are overdone with technopanic, but the newly discovered bug in Android’s multimedia playback tool Stagefright is one that has users more concerned than usual.
The exploit in question happens when a hacker sends an MMS message containing a video that includes malware code. What’s most alarming about it is that the victim doesn’t even have to open the message or watch the video in order to activate it. The built-in Hangouts app automatically processes videos and pictures from MMS messages in order to have them ready in the phone’s Gallery app.
As such, a hacker could gain control of the device before the victim even knows about the text message, and even if phone owners find the message right away, there is nothing they can do to prevent the malware from taking over their device. The hacker would have access to all data and the ability to copy or delete, and would even have access to the microphone and camera, all pictures on the device, as well as Bluetooth.
Here’s everything you need to know about the hack, what’s being done to patch it up on all the affected Android phones, a list of all the patched devices, and what you can do to defend yourself while waiting for a patch update.