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Preventing the StageFright Attack

What is StageFright?

StageFright is the name of a newly discovered attack against Android phones ( as well as a 1950 Alfred Hitchcock movie staring Marlene Dietrich). Messaging applications sometimes automatically play incoming multimedia messages. It is possible that those messages could instead "play" a virus that could take over your phone, listen to conversations, record passwords etc.

My suggested solution

Make sure your multimedia app doesn't automatically play messages. Pretty simple yes? Well, really no, since most messaging apps that come with phones won't let you turn the "feature" off. So instead I recommend replacing your lame "came with the phone" texting app with the new modern, pretty, safe Textra App. You'll like it better and you will be safe from StageFright.

Textra gives you a one month testing period, then you need to choose whether you want to buy it for $2.49 or have it show advertisements. I bought it. I'm told the advertisements are small, unobtrusive and don't seem to track you, just show a single small ad.

Additional Hangout Hangups

Besides disabling auto fetching of MMS messages in your messaging app, you may need to do it for Google Hangouts as well. Under Options/Settings/SMS/Advanced uncheck Auto Retrieve MMS.


  • EFF article about StageFright
  • Detailed instructions on preventing StageFright in both hangouts and the standard messaging service from the people who discovered the problem.

Date: August 2015

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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