BadNews for Good People

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Bugs. Creepy, crawly, never-really-know-where-they’re-hiding, infestations of bugs.

If we could just see them all, we would rid our lives of bug infestations with doses of (environmentally friendly) spray. But what about the bugs that we can’t see? What about the bugs that have snuck past, and infiltrated the hidden corners of our lives, then quietly lie dormant until they can strike where it hurts most – our finances, our personal lives and our private information. You might ask, “How can a few bugs do that?”  You may forget: there are bugs that we cannot see, electronic bugs that we unknowingly let into our lives through our phones, tablets, apps and downloads and cannot control. They infest, they attack, they steal, and no amount of bug spray in the world can help with that.

Most recently, the Russian “BadNews Bug” has proven to be an example of this. While technically not a bug in software terms, though it’s been called this in the press, security researchers have identified 32 separate apps on Google Play that have harbored “BadNews.”  BadNews hides out as an innocent, yet somewhat aggressive, advertising network able to conceal its identity and successfully avoid detection systems by hiding in random daily use programs, such as recipe generators, wallpaper apps and games. Sneaking in when a mobile user least expects it, the second part to this infection occurs when the BadNews begins to deliver the AlphaSMS, a malicious premium SMS dialer, through the aggressive ad network and ultimately begins stealing the victim’s credit by sending text messages to premium rate numbers. Day-by-day, month-by-month, money seeps out of the user’s account.

Many people are now left wondering – how many people were infected? Was I infected? Can I be infected? While numbers of people affected are ranging from 2 million to 9 million according to the press, the main concern that should rise here is that the BadNews “bug” isn’t the only bug of its kind on the market. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of bugs lurking in dark corners and fine prints that can very easily sneak into our lives. In 2013 alone, the mobile ad business is a rapidly growing $6 billion industry, and without the proper protection, we may fall victim before we know it.

So how do we do it; how can we protect ourselves? There are ways, of course – besides having to scrutinize your phone bill every month for incurred premium charges – that can protect you from dangers such as this. Depending on your service provider and country, you may have the option to turn off all premium services or be notified when a premium charge is about to incur. There are also security apps that can prevent this from the get-go, such as McAfee Mobile Security, which will ensure all possible protection for your finances and your personal life. Whatever the case is for you, the one thing you should not do is sit by and let creepy crawlers infest your life. Protect yourself. Find your virtual bottle of bug spray today!

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