• Android by Google

Android by Google (Photo : REUTERS/MARK BLINCH)

Google Inc.'s Android operating system has a massive major defect. A malware containing message can compromise the majority of the user's personal data.

Uncovered by security firm Zimperium, the fault exists in Stagefright, a media playback tool built into the OS. Malicious hackers can take advantage of the flaw by messaging a video containing a malware in its code. Upon receipt of the text message, the virus activates as the media player scans the unread message. Therefore, even without opening the file, the malware takes over the user's phone stealing credit card numbers and personal details.

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This virus can attack everyone from simple professionals to government leaders, businessmen, and security officers, CBS warned users in their July 27 broadcast.

Google assured the public that they were informed by Zimperium. The vulnerability was identified in a laboratory test on older Android devices. So far, there was no reported case of this kind of hacking.

Google also reiterated its rewards program for security researchers who can report any flaw to secure the OS. Google thanked Zimperium researcher Joshua Drake for this contribution.

Still at risk

Despite the availability of the security patches, many users can still be at risk. Only 20 to 50 percent of Androids in the consumers' hands are estimated to get the updates as some vendors are slow to respond. Users can safeguard themselves by blocking messages from unknown senders, CNET suggested.

The discovery is a major global concern noting that 79 percent of phones bought in the market are Androids. Approximately 1.1 billion android devices will be shipped this year.