Consumer alert: "SpamSoldier" app is invading Android phones

Consumer alert: "SpamSoldier" app is invading Android phones
FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2011 file photo, the Kindle Fire is displayed at a news conference, in New York. The brand spanking new Kindle Fire is Amazon's first color Kindle. It runs a highly, modified, user-friendly version of Google's Android software, just like a lot of bigger tablets. The selection of apps is smaller than for other Android tablets, however. Notable inclusions are Netflix, Hulu and Comixology.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

A powerful spam-sending application is attacking the most common smartphone operating system.  “Before you click on a link that is texted to you, understand it’s probably going to cost you,” says Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna.


McKenna tells KOMO's Jane Shannon the text that appears to come from a reputable retailer is usually a trick to take your money, install a virus, or both.

As reported by The Next Web, SpamSoldier “spreads through SMS messages that advertise free versions of popular paid games like Angry Birds Space.” It is also found on disreputable, third party app stores. Once it’s infiltrated an Android handset, it uses the subscriber’s allotment of text messages to put its tentacles on more targets.

The Next Web says SpamSoldier’s texts include messages telling consumers they’ve won a $1000 Target gift card or provide an opportunity to download free games such as Grand Theft Auto 3. Someone who clicks on the link might actually receive a free game. But they will also install an application that in coordination with a kind of mother ship — a server somewhere in cyberspace — seeks to reproduce itself.

Detecting the SpamSoldier can be difficult because the app is programmed to intercept responses to its texts before consumers see them. Still, those who pay by the text or have a limited number per month will eventually notice the activity.

In order to avoid SpamSoldier and other malicious apps:

Only download apps from reputable vendors such as the app store pre-installed on your phone.  Do not download apps from a vendor who sends you a text and don’t fall for texts saying you’ve won something, and regularly check your bill with an eye for texts you do not remember sending or for charges you did not authorize.

·         Check your smartphone’s security by visiting the FCC’s Smartphone Security Checker.