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Malware ‘Agent Smith’ hits Aussies: 25 million Android phones infected

This malicious Android phone malware has hit 25 million people worldwide, with a notable number of Aussies hit as well.
This malicious Android phone malware has hit 25 million people worldwide, with a notable number of Aussies hit as well.

If you own an Android phone, you should be on the alert: a new, malicious mobile malware named ‘Agent Smith’ is spreading around the globe.

While most of the victims are based in India, software technology provider Check Point said neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have also been hit by the malware, as well as a “noticeable number of devices” in the UK, US, and Australia.

So what is Agent Smith and how does it work?

The malware has been dubbed ‘Agent Smith’ after a menacing character in The Matrix trilogy, and due to the malware’s nature of attacking a device yet avoiding detection.

An unsuspecting user is lured into downloading a ‘dropper application’, like a free game, utility app or even adult entertainment app from a third-party app store.

But the dropper app then disguises itself as a Google-related app and renames itself something like ‘google updater’, then checks the phone for other popular ‘innocent’ apps – such as WhatsApp – that are already installed on the device.

The malicious app then starts replacing a part of the codes of those apps – all without you noticing.

Agent Smith diagram.
Agent Smith diagram. (Source: Check Point)

Not only does ‘Agent Smith’ hack apps to push pop-up ads, the malware can also be used to steal your banking details.

“It could easily be used for far more intrusive and harmful purposes such as banking credential theft and eavesdropping,” said Check Point.

“Due to its ability to hide its icon from the launcher and impersonate existing user-trusted popular apps, there are endless possibilities for this sort of malware to harm a user’s device.”

How do I avoid being infected by Agent Smith?

Be careful where you download your apps: only download them from trusted app stores to mitigate the risk of infection.

To delete apps on your Android, head to your Settings menu, hit your apps or application manager, scroll to the suspicious app, and uninstall it.

Check Point advises that if it can’t be found, you should instead remove all recently installed apps.

I think I’ve already been infected – what do I do?

If you have an app that’s behaving oddly, the safest thing to do is just to delete it and reinstall it again from a trusted app store like Google Play.

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