If you click on these texts, cunning malware can take over your phone


Texting has not gone out of style. While platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram have exploded in use, 2.1 trillion text messages were still sent in 2020. Facebook Messenger is also a popular choice, and the company recently introduced end-to-end encryption.

Unfortunately, text messages are also popular with cyber criminals. Constantly evolving to infect as many devices as possible, malware hiding in texts is an increasing problem.

Though they come in various forms, an old trick has been reimagined to wreak financial havoc. Read on to learn how malicious text messages can install money-grabbing malware.

Here’s the backstory

Medusa malware first appeared in July 2020, raising concerns about its ability to infect devices quickly. The malware is also known as Tanglebot and is distributed via text messages with malicious links. If the malware infects your device, scammers can steal data and even take over your phone.

ThreatFabric researchers noticed a developmental change in the current version, making Medusa even more dangerous. In addition to regularly reading text messages and accessing your contacts, it can now also steal your money. It is a dangerous banking trojan that you should keep off your gadget.

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This particular scam combines SMS (Short Message Service) and phishing and is known as smishing. These attacks try to gain your trust by imitating brands and companies you know or support.

The malware performs fraudulent actions through a keylogger or by taking control of your device’s clipboard. And it’s not easy to spot. Instructions are built into the malware’s code to bypass antivirus detection and prevent the installation of apps that detect the malware.

According to ThreatFabric, this is how the scheme works: you receive a message via text that contains malicious links. Scammers pretend to have information about a delivery or an app that needs to be updated immediately. But the link leads to a malicious download that will infect your device with malware.

Once the malware is on your device, it can be used to steal your banking credentials and more.

What you need to know

How is Medusa or Tanglebot distributed? Well, criminals create a sense of urgency with their attacks, so you’ll often find messages urging you to update one app or the other. For example, the most commonly used technique claims that your Adobe Flash Player is out of date.

Other tricks used to make you click on the malicious link include:

At the height of the pandemic, text messages would have informed you about where to get a vaccine. Track a delivery from UPS or DHL. A text message about an online purchase or how to claim a refund. Inform you about delivery to an Amazon Hub Vault.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can stay safe:

Don’t trust text messages – If you receive a suspicious text message, delete it as soon as possible. Please do not contact us by commenting on links or clicking on links. Contact official contacts – Instead of responding to unsolicited texts, contact official companies directly via known phone numbers or email addresses. Avoid clicking links – If you believe you have business with a company or want information, go to the company’s official site or government site instead of clicking links in text. Make sure you have reliable antivirus software that protects all your devices – We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV† Get an annual subscription now from TotalAV Internet Security for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com† That’s over 85% off the regular price. Report Scams – If you receive a scam SMS, please report it using the reporting feature in your messaging app or forward the scam text to 7726 which is “SPAM”. Change your passwords – If you think you are a victim of a scam, it is best to change passwords in affected accounts. Tap or click here for tips on creating stronger passwords.

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