A newly found and rather simple SMS-based hack is said to be affecting some smartphones running on MediaTek processors, rebooting the devices without the user's consent.
The SMS-based hack for the Mediatek-based handsets has been discovered by a blogger named Korben (via Neowin), and is said to restart the smartphones as soon as the handset receives a message containing the equal-to sign, or '='. The blogger notes that in MediaTek's chipset language, the symbol is code for 'shutdown and reboot device'.
It is worth noting that the handset will reboot even if the users don't open the text message or even when they are in between a phone call. The Neowin website has listed some of the Alcatel handsets that can be under the vulnerability area. Some of these handsets include One Touch Idol X, Idol Ultra, 997D, Pop C3, S-Pop, and Star. A list of Wiko handsets are also mentioned that are prone to this virus.
Users can avoid the SMS-hack completely by bypassing the native messaging app, and downloading a new default one from Google Play. For now, the complete list of affected MediaTek-based smartphones has not been released, and the hack could very well affect a significant portion of handsets in India, with its massive budget Android smartphone market that is filled with such inexpensive handsets.
Earlier this month, a new Android malware was discovered that after locking down a handset, forced users to pay to unlock their data. The Android/Simplocker Trojan malware of the ransomware variety encrypted photos, videos, and documents stored on the SD card of the Android device, and then demanded a ransom in order for them to be decrypted/ restored.