I don’t care who you are at this point because the news has made its way around the globe and to just about every news outlet in the world, even non-tech outlets. This means the majority of people that own a TV and smartphone know all about Android stagefright. Yes, the malware/bug that could infect your Android phone and render it useless as well as steal all of your data, house, cars, pets, forks, knives and toilet paper. At least that’s how the headlines read along with the stories behind those headlines. The tech media is bad enough but throw in the mainstream media and you have an outright epidemic on your hands and everyone should just hang themselves and die.
First off let’s clarify something. Is stagefright a legitimate threat to your Android device? The answer. Yes. The bug is real and it could do some real harm to your device. That’s where the media stops the story and picks up the fear mongering, cause you know, they have to keep your attention. The truth is, stagefright was discovered by hackers who look for vulnerabilities in operating systems and when they find them, report them to the appropriate company whom the OS belongs to. In this case it’s Google. This is done even before they announce it to the shark tank media who then strip all of the sense out of the story and leave only the parts that scare the piss out of you.
Google has already developed a patch for stagefright and it should be deployed to their Nexus line of phones either already or soon. “But Alex, what about the other 95% of phones that remain at risk?” True. There are a ton of devices that will need to wait on updates as the OEM manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola and others work to get the patch compatible with their software that lays on top of Android. But you are likely pretty safe from being a victim of stagefright because as far as we know (and nothing is certain) the only ones who have access to stagefright are the original white-hat hackers, Google and the OEM’s. This means it has hopefully been contained and shouldn’t get into the hands of black-hat hackers at least until patches are pushed out to OEM phones.
In other words, keep calm and don’t panic. As much as the media wants your clicks,eyes and ears (and they have them) you got to remain sensible and understand stagefright is like a contained disease. Right now the authorities have control over it and people are working hard to roll out the vaccine to everyone. You’re not at risk until the bad guys get ahold of it and that’s likely not going to happen. Don’t go marching to your local carrier and switching your Android phone out for an iPhone because some dopey columnist told you that was a bright idea. iPhones have had their share of bugs and malware too, it’s the life of technology, nothing is perfect. Do I really need to recount the amount of hacks we’ve had over the past year?
So sit back and relax, your phone isn’t going to explode, your toilet paper is safe and you will eventually get a patch for the problem. When you get that patch is entirely up to the OEM’s and that’s a whole other rant post waiting to happen.