Commissioner's blog: Don’t get infected by FluBot

This announcement is for: 
Consumer

If you’ve been bombarded with suspicious, garbled text messages lately that mention a missed call or voicemail, you’re not alone.

There’s a good chance that the messages riddled with typos have been generated by malware called FluBot, which tries to steal Android device users’ banking details and other personal information.

We understand the scammers behind the malware are deliberately using bad grammar and spelling errors in the text messages to circumvent strict filters put in place by telco companies that would ordinarily block this type of message from getting through.

The FluBot malware has already infected devices in Europe, after Android users clicked on the links in the messages and installed the FluBot app, which is only available outside of the official Google PlayStore.

Even though iPhones can still receive the messages, the FluBot malware doesn’t pose a threat to iOS users because they can only download and install files directly from the Apple store.

Once installed on an Android device, the FluBot can take over to spy and steal data. Of particular concern is its ability to overlay on top of a legitimate banking app, leading the victim to a scammer’s site instead of their own bank. FluBot can also access your contact list, meaning your friends and family may also start receiving the bogus messages.

While phishing scams aren’t new, they are on the rise. New figures from WA ScamNet reveal that so far in 2021, 81 victims have lost more than $904,000 to phishing scams, compared to 65 victims with almost $305,000 in losses for the whole of 2020. 

Our best advice is to never click on links in messages you are not expecting, don’t download apps outside of official app stores and consider installing anti-virus software on your Android phone.

If you have installed the FluBot app, it is recommended to do a factory reset on your device to remove the malware. Avoid doing a ‘restore’ on your phone to retrieve lost apps and files, as this may reinstate the malware.

Should you fall victim to FluBot or another malware, contact WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54 or consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au for further guidance.

Gary Newcombe
Gary Newcombe , by tvanderloo

Gary Newcombe

Commissioner for Consumer Protection

 

Consumer Protection
Media release
26 Aug 2021

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