With all the details coming out about Stagefright, the new Android vulnerability that could hijack your device, Android users are right to be concerned. While Google has released a patch, it’s currently only available for Nexus devices. Almost everyone else is still at risk. Fortunately, the folks at Zimperium, the company that first discovered the Stagefright bug, have released the Stagefright Detector App to help keep users informed on whether their phone is still vulnerable.
Unfortunately, the app can’t fix the issue, it’s just meant to help people know if they’re at risk so they can take precautions against Stagefright. Those with phones from HTC, LG, and even Samsung — including the latest Galaxy S6 — are definitely vulnerable. But for devices from other manufacturers, it isn’t so clear. This could include the OnePlus One with CyanogenMod, for example.
Zimperium has shared some tips on their blog about how to keep phones safe, but the basic idea is to not open any MMS messages from strangers. Any users who rely on Google’s Hangouts as their texting app need to turn off the “Auto Retrieve SMS” setting.
The Stagefright bug can be very scary in that all it takes is one MMS for a device to be at the mercy of hackers. And in the case of the Hangouts app, users don’t even need to open it. But the issue has highlighted one of the main problems with the Android platform: updates are slow to rollout due to widespread fragmentation with any number of devices and any number of software modifications. The hope is that this will prompt Google to address this issue, somehow reducing the response time.