This Malware Spies On You Even When Your Android Phone Is Shut Off

Malware that spies on you from your own phone is something we watch on spy movies but consider it fiction. This preconception is now being challenged with a recent discovery. AVG’s Mobile Malware research team found a new malware spreading in Chinese app stores they’ve now coined ‘Android/PowerOffHijack’.

It tricks infected-phone owners into thinking they’ve turned off their phone. Once they press the power button on their device, it shows an authentic looking shut down animation on their screen. The screen then goes black, and the phone appears shut off.

In actuality, the malware stopped the shut down process, dimmed the screen brightness to black, turned off sound alerts, and disabled the notifications lights. In this state, the ‘PowerOffHijack’ can use your phone to make outbound calls, take pictures with the camera, as well as “perform many other tasks without notifying you,” according to AVG.

This malware has spread to about 10,000 Android devices so far. Security experts say it’s only a matter of time before the virus reaches the United States.

But, there’s good news (sort of). Only versions of Android earlier than v.5 (Lollipop) can become infected. Also, if you only download apps from trusted sources like Google Play, you have a much lower risk for getting infected with malware.

Google Play and other high quality app stores are not able to stop all threats, however, so it’s best to use some sort of antivirus software for Android devices. Norton Security by Symantec is a strong antivirus software with full malware prevention and removal capabilities. If you want a software that also has parental controls, McAfee All Access is a good choice. It matches Norton Security’s ability to prevent malware but is not quite as strong at removing existing malware already on your device.