Android 'System Update' malware can access your WhatsApp messages — beware of this app

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(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Whether using an Android or iOS device, smartphone users are constantly at risk of being hacked by malicious actors coming up with sneaky malware. Fortunately, mobile security researchers have spotted a new malicious app so you can keep well away from it.

A new advanced Android malware is tricking users into using a System Update app. The dangerous app can gain complete access to WhatsApp messages, record phone calls, and completely hijack your smartphone once installed.

Android System Update malware

Spotted by Zimperium zLabs researchers, the new smartphone security risk disguises itself as a "System Update" app, functioning as a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) that can both receive data and execute commands from a malicious actor. Once the app is installed, hackers can take control of an Android user's phone.

This means the app can record private audio and phone calls, steal images and videos, take pictures using the smartphone's camera, gain access to your messages on WhatsApp or other instant messaging platforms, and plenty more. What's worse, it can hide its presence by hiding the icon, so you may not even know it's there.

In better news, Google has confirmed that the app has never been on the Google Play Store, and can only be downloaded via a third-party store. While the Google Play Store is the most popular for Android users, this could still pose a risk to Samsung smartphone users seeing as Samsung has its own Galaxy Store.

"The spyware’s functionality and data exfiltration are triggered under multiple conditions, such as a new contact added, new SMS received or, a new application installed by making use of Android’s contentObserver and Broadcast receivers," researchers state in a recent blog.

Basically, stay away from any System Update apps. For a better look at how the Android malware works, head over to Zimperium's blog. If you're thinking of switching from Android to iOS, you may want to check out the best of the bunch duke it out: iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.