Dangerous Android malware is spreading — beware of text message scam

Android Phone
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cybersecurity researchers have found a text message scam affecting Android smartphone users with nasty malware known as FluBot, and it's reportedly spreading to various countries around the globe.

The Android phishing scam has already branched out across Europe earlier this year, originally targeting users in Spain and spreading to the UK, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Poland. Now, reports indicate the nasty trojan malware is making its way to users in the US and Australia. 

According to cybersecurity company Proofpoint, hackers trick unsuspecting Android phone users by impersonating well-known delivery services such as FedEx or DHL and send SMS messages leading them to download a malicious app containing the FluBot malware. Text messages include “FEDEX Your package is arriving, track here” and another stating a delivery date and a link to "follow the journey."

What's worse, the app that contains the malware seems credible due to the threat actors using the official delivery service's logo and believable APK files. If users download the app, they would still need to allow full access for the malware to work, including allowing notification access.

The FluBot malware can steal private information using display overlays, including credit card details and banking credentials, while also acting as an SMS spammer. As noted in the report, it also "sends the victim’s contact list and retrieves an SMS phishing message and number to continue its spread using the victim’s device."

The phishing scam has seen a number of surges throughout the year, even after arrests made by Spanish authorities for those responsible for creating the FluBot malware. Cybersecurity news outlet Security Week states that the malware has successfully affected 7,000 victims in the UK in April, and affected more than 60,000 devices in Spain back in March. 

Recent FluBot malware activity

According to researchers, tens of thousands of malicious SMS messages can be sent at an hourly rate, making it easy to spread to other Android users around the world. Proofpoint discovered text messages being sent to Android users in the US, and recent reports have now warned US Android users of a spyware scam.

The nasty malware has also made its way over to Australia, as the ACCC Scamwatch service has received more than 5,500 reports of scam text messages about missed calls or voicemails for package deliveries — all concerning the FluBot malware.

The phishing scam doesn't appear to be affecting those with iPhone, but all smartphone users should beware of sketchy text messages from delivery companies. Stay away from links sent via text message from "official" companies.  If you are expecting a package and receive a well-timed text, it's better to head to the delivery service's official website and track your package from there.

There are plenty of ways to keep your private information safe from prying eyes. If you're getting sick of spam calls, iPhone and Android phones can permanently stop spam calls. Plus, Windows 10 has a secret anti-ransomware feature that you should switch on, and you can check if your email addresses have been involved in data breaches using Have I Been Pwned?

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.