The recently publicized Stagefright hack affects Android smartphone users and while Google has already fixed their code to prevent it, it will take a very long while for all the assorted carriers to propagate those changes to their customers phones. Some may never receive a fix.
The hack works via Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). If someone sends your phone a worm infested message and your phone is set so it automatically downloads those MMS messages, there’s a good chance it will get you – and you might never know! However, if you change your phone settings so MMS messages are NOT automatically downloaded, you have a fighting chance to stave off the infection.
Here’s how to change that setting and while it’s not a permanent fix, along with some diligence on your part, the change should help protect you from the Android Stagefright hack:
Find the Settings for the Texting App that you use. Your Texting App could be Google Hangouts or it could be something else that the phone maker has provided. Normally, just open your Texting App and you will find the Settings located within the list of main menu items.
Once you have found the Settings for your Texting App, choose the subset of settings for Multimedia Messages or “MMS” or look for a setting that says something like Auto-retrieve MMS.
The image to the left shows the MMS settings for my HTC phone with Auto-retrieve turned OFF (no check mark).
Now, when someone sends you a multimedia message you will be asked if you want to download it or not. Make sure you know the sender and trust them before downloading the MMS message. Normal (text only) messages will continue to operate the way they always have, this setting change only affects MMS messages (those with photos or videos).
Notes: If your Texting App is MMS capable but does not have a setting to turn off MMS Auto-retrieve, you should disable it and switch to one that does, such as Google Hangouts. If you use more than one MMS capable texting App make sure you make the change to all of them.