Security outfit Trend Micro
is warning Android
users that a recently discovered vulnerability in Google's open-source platform could allow cybercriminals to do "substantial damage" on smartphones and tablets. By exploiting the vulnerability, a hacker could effectively put an Android device in an endless reboot loop, thereby making it unusable.
Exploiting the security hole is as simple as releasing a malicious app that performs certain tasks in the background. To the average user, it would be difficult to tell anything shady is taking place -- there are methods to make it look like an app simply crashed and caused a reboot.
"An even worse case is when the malware is written to start automatically upon device startup. Doing so will trap the device in a rebooting loop, rendering it useless. In this case, only a boot loader recovery fix will work, which means that all the information (contacts, photos, files, etc.) stored inside the device will be erased," Trend Micro explains.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? It's the same advice you've heard a million times before, and it starts with being wary of what and where you download. Getting your apps from third-party app stores is an added risk. Trend Micro says Google has been notified about the vulnerabilities, but until there's a patch available -- the security bug is present on Android 4.0 and above -- take extra caution in what you're downloading.