It’s not just you if you’ve noticed an increase in spam on your mobile phone. The culprit behind the flood of spam text messages in inboxes is FluBot. Every day, hundreds of thousands of spam text messages pour into inboxes around the country.
While most spam messages coming into the country are filtered by your mobile phone provider, FluBot differs as it’s actually a virus rather than traditional spam.
Initially, FluBot reacted when all of us were in lockdown, so it was perfectly timed. Online shopping was booming, and text messages stating “your parcel has been delayed, click here for more information” were not uncommon. When clicked on, users visited a site where an Android app needed to be downloaded (which isn’t unusual at all), and that’s when phones running the operating system became infected.
As soon as you downloaded the app, your phone joined the millions of others sending spam around the world. Using FluBot, cybercriminals obtain access to a victim’s phone, gaining access to credentials for online banking and the capability to send messages to friends in their address book, encouraging them to download the malware as well.
In order to combat the problem, mobile phone companies work with the police and the National Cyber Security Centre. However, it largely comes down to the owner of the phone having to reset it to its original factory state.
That might be a step too far for some users since they didn’t back up any of the content from their phones (always make sure your computer and phone are backed up).
Sending 3000 international text messages a day for five days – the duration most phones are infected for – is a hefty phone bill.
It is extraordinarily difficult for telcos to block FluBot due to its carefully crafted nature. Depending on the day, it might send a message about a late parcel, or about downloading a photo album, or a new voicemail, (among other things) and link to a number of different web pages. The number of messages it sends each day also varies, so it avoids all the filters normally used by your phone company to identify messages as spam.
FluBot can be removed from your phone relatively easily. It is just a matter of resetting the phone to factory settings – unfortunately, you will lose all the information on it, so you need to back it up first.
It’s important to back up your phone to guard against FluBot
Take a look at your photos, contacts, music or videos. If you want to backup your data, you can use your computer or a cloud service. As an example, Google One offers 100 Gigabytes of storage for around £16 a year, and there are plenty of other options out there as well.
Having backed everything up will allow you to reset your phone and remove FluBot.
You will be automatically backed up when you use a cloud-based service, so you will never have to worry about losing your data if anything happens to your phone.
Report a text message you believe to be a scam
In most circumstances, phone providers offer customers the ability to forward suspicious text messages to 7726 in order to report them for free. Sending a text to 7726 allows your provider to investigate the origin of the message and block or ban the sender if they find it to be malicious.