FBI Issues Malware Warning to Android Phone Users

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a warning to Android smartphone owners on Friday that point to two specific malware: Loozfon and FinFisher. The firm also provides a list of safety tips that will help protect smartphones from hackers.

In the public warning, the FBI said that criminals are using different versions of Loozfon. One scheme is a work-at-home opportunity that promises big money by just sending out email. Another scheme involves links to a subscription-based dating service that supposedly helps women meet rich men.

In both scenarios, when the user clicks on the link to find out more, they're directed to a website that pushes the Loozfon malware app onto the device. If installed, it then steals contact details from the address book and the user's phone number.

During the summer, Symantec said this particular malware targets female Android users in Japan. "If this trick does not work, the criminal group has another trick up its sleeve. It also sends spam that states that the sender of the email can introduce the recipient to wealthy men. When the link included in the body of the email is clicked, the malware is automatically downloaded onto the device," the firm said.

Symantec said the criminals are likely harvesting email addresses and phone numbers to send spam to the user's contacts in hopes to lure them to the fake sites and/or sell the data to another group of spammers.

But with the FBI now involved, it seems that the Loozfon scheme has reached the North American shores. The government is also warning device owners about FinFisher (or FinSpy), a spyware tool capable of taking over the components of a mobile device.

"When installed, the mobile device can be remotely controlled and monitored no matter where the target is located. FinFisher can be easily transmitted to a smartphone when the user visits a specific web link or opens a text message masquerading as a system update," the report said.

FinFisher is actually surveillance software developed by U.K.-based Gamma Group and sold to law enforcement channels. It was discovered being used to actively target dissidents is countries with an autocracy government system. It can be installed on a target device when the user accepts the installation of a fake update for commonly used software.

The FBI is now telling consumers to know the features of a smartphone when making a hardware purchase. They should also know the default settings, and turn off device features that are not needed to minimize the attack surface of the device. That said, does the FBI think some of this malware will come pre-installed right out of the box?

The FBI's list goes on to state the obvious: read the reviews on app markets, obtain malware protection, passcode protect the device, review the permissions of apps before installation, and more.

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  • robochump
    Good thing I have an iPhone. Rain the iHate upon me now Droidsheep!
  • damianrobertjones
    @Robochump: The iPhone also has isssues and just because you have one does not make you no better or worse than someone that doesn't or someone that has another phone. Grow up as there's more to life.
  • nebun
    is this warning really coming from the FBI....this is too funny
  • nebun
    robochumpGood thing I have an iPhone. Rain the iHate upon me now Droidsheep!lol...true very true statement indeed....i also love my iphone :)
  • abbadon_34
    So that means you are safe as your troll for your rich husband? So nice the FBI has moved from investigating murders and terrorists to protecting gold diggers who still don't know to not click on spam
    i like how im reading this article and its surrounded by ads that say "MAKE 900 DOLLARS AN HOUR BY CLICKING HERE" and "THIS OLD BAG FIXED HER FACE WITH $5 OF STUFF AND DOCTORS HATE HER _ CLICK HERE!"
  • math1337
    Android automatic downloading is a bit annoying. It should ask for a confirmation before downloading a file.
  • _Cubase_
    Really the FBI needs to understand that an Android phone is not something you can jump dump stuff on, it's not a big truck!
  • A Bad Day
    otacon72I'd rather have Apple's closed system than deal with all the malware BS with Android.
    Well, I hope you're more than happy to torch your wallet than to be smart, go with Apple's loony map service, and risk having more features getting cut out.
  • wolley74
    MAC_HATERi like how im reading this article and its surrounded by ads that say "MAKE 900 DOLLARS AN HOUR BY CLICKING HERE" and "THIS OLD BAG FIXED HER FACE WITH $5 OF STUFF AND DOCTORS HATE HER _ CLICK HERE!"

    what ads? ;)