BBC News is reporting that Android phones are being turned into vehicles for spam. It has been surmised that the corrupt software is encrypted within free versions of games like Angry Birds Space and Need for Speed Most Wanted. The application, once installed, contacts a web server and begins generating junk text messages.
The initial wave of messages produced offer free versions of games in an attempt to surreptitiously recruit new drones. The app then instructs the user to disable safety measures and enable certain permissions in order to run. The icon eventually disappears from the phone’s main menu. Once the virus gains momentum, deceiving in greater numbers, it generates new messages announcing enticing prizes like gift cards.
The FCC and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act both ban the use of auto-dialers, or phone number generators, that these types of spam attempts use to text unwanted commercial messages. Unless the owner of the phone has given prior consent, or the text is sent as an act of an emergency, which are both considered “relationship messages,” it is illegal. The CAN-SPAM Act rounds out the protection of the TCPA, banning unwanted commercial oriented emails sent to mobile devices. CAN-SPAM rules for legitimate businesses require them to identify the messages sent as ads, must provide options to opt out from receiving future messages, and must honor opt out requests.
If you receive a message offering a “too good to be true promotion,” do not reply. This may trigger a less than desirable onslaught of surplus spam. Avoid downloading anything unless you know and trust the source. Report suspicious messages to your carrier, and register with The Do Not Call List.