The New Mask of Malware: A New Breed Of Virus and The Dangers Of Third-Party Apps Stores

If the threat of malware wasn’t already concerning, a new software virus has grabbed the attention of the world for it’s nefarious and stealthy nature. The Agent Smith virus has recently infected a total of 25 million Android smartphones, mostly in India and other neighboring countries.


Named after the villain from the popular Matrix film series, Agent Smith deviates from the usual methods of stealing data, bank statements or sensitive information from your device.


Largely due to the vulnerabilities in Android devices, the virus is disguised as a common phone app which can be obtained from the phone’s app store. Agent Smith replaces downloadable apps with a corrupt version and forces it to display more ads which the virus’ operator then uses to financially profit from the views.

Android has a history of flaws in its software which makes it easy for cybercriminals to hacks apps. One such flaw called Janus rendered Android devices from versions 5.1.1 to 8.0 vulnerable to cyber-attacks; these versions made up 74% at the time this flaw was found in 2017.

The Janus flaw allowed hackers to access apps and corrupt them with DEX (Dalvik Executable) file. This file allows hackers to corrupt apps even if they haven’t been downloaded yet without changing the app’s signature verification certificate. This flaw allowed any app to be targetted by hackers; once an app has been corrupted, the operator obtains the privileges that the app allows, giving way to the theft of sensitive information stored on your device.

What Does Agent Smith Do?

Besides fraudulent profiting, the Agent Smith virus can also be used as a means of hacking bank statements and eavesdropping on unsuspected victims. According to Check Point, a software security agency, the Agent Smith virus makes it difficult for everyday users to combat on their own because of its sly nature, people don’t know they’re being hacked.

Jonathan Shimonovich, Head of Mobile Threat Detection Research at Check Point, says “Combining advanced threat prevention and threat intelligence while adopting a ‘hygiene first’ approach to safeguard digital assets is the best protection against invasive mobile malware attacks like “Agent Smith.”

Shimonovich also suggests that smartphone users should only download applications from trusted application stores like Apple’s AppStore and GooglePlay; he says avoiding third party application stores is one of the best means of preventing malware from infecting your devices because they don’t employ or have the means of filtering corrupted applications.

Check Point believes that the Agent Smith virus originated from a Chinese internet firm that helps Chinese Android app developers publish their apps on foreign markets and target their audience. A third-party app store called 9Apps helped distribute the malware to multiple countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Russia.

The Agent Smith virus has also infected mobile devices and software systems in the west and Australia, with more than 300,000 in the United States, and more than 130,000 in the United Kingdom.

How To Tell You’ve Been Infected

It’s not that hard to tell if you’ve been infected or not. A common sign which indicates that you’ve been infected is seeing an excessive amount of ads popping up when using your apps. Since these apps are now corrupted, they’re very hard to exit or even impossible.

Where Does The Malware Come From?

This new incident of cyber-corruption accentuates not only what you should avoid but where you should avoid going pertaining to malware. Third-party app stores aren’t corrupt locations but your chances of getting malware are higher when using these sources.

Third-party app stores are digital stores that are run by people who are not part of an incorporated manufacturer. Yet, ironically, the majority of applications that are available on the two biggest app stores, Apple’s AppStore and GooglePlay, are third-party applications.

A third-party app is created by a private business or individual; Apple and Google make their own apps, which are known as native apps, but in order for a private developer to sell or distribute his project on one of these company’s platforms they have to abide by stipulations of development.

This is to prevent any malicious apps from being distributed. Third-party app stores don’t have such strict developmental regulations; you may still be able to download safe applications, but your chances of downloading malware increases, respectively.
The GooglePlay and the Apple AppStore aren’t accessible in most countries so many people have to rely on third-party stores to download their apps. Third-party app stores are unrestricted, meaning developers retain control over their applications and distribution to their target audience.

Malware can infect your devices from multiple means; it’s important that you understand these different methods to keep your data and finances safe from corrupt hands.
It’s hard to tell if your device has been corrupted; if the signs mentioned above persist you should immediately contact a malware or anti-virus company who’ll help you resolve the issue.

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How To Protect Your Business From Ransomware And Cyber-Attacks

While the internet provides a paradise of content, entertainment and has connected us more than ever before, safety online has become a growing concern. Software protection has provided effective security for a whole host of individuals and thus the software protection industry has grown. 

Nevertheless, as technology has advanced, we have fooled ourselves into a false sense of security. From firewalls to VPNs, we’ve created and bought a variety of programs to protect our personal computers from harmful attacks and potential seizures of sensitive information. 

Unfortunately, there’s no protection against ransomware. 

What is Ransomware?

For those unaware, ransomware is a cyber-attack. Insidious software infects your system and acquires sensitive information, which is later encrypted. Your information or sensitive documents are then held for ransom. Attackers will demand payment in exchange for access to these files. To gain access to your files, you will need to purchase a key from your attacker. In most cases, attackers have charged victims through bitcoin, but in some cases, attackers will not provide a key. 

A recent attack in Baltimore completely debilitated the city’s police force. 22 attacks have taken place in the public sector this year alone. For the most part, attackers have targeted local US government entities, i.e. police, mayor’s office, and others alike. 

Why Should You Care?

Although public and governmental institutions have been affected, there is absolutely no guarantee attackers aren’t going to look towards the private sector for a hefty payday. 

Similarly, if ransomware was so effective at crippling the Baltimore Police Force, imagine how harmful an attack could be for your business?

A large proportion of transactions occur online. Your business holds a number of articles containing sensitive information, particularly your employees’ private information. You don’t want to lose or be in danger of losing those pieces of information. 

Finally, the federal government and FBI do not track attacks nationwide. If an attack does happen, who can you call? Certainly not The Ghostbusters. 

How To Protect Yourself? 

After speaking with Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a local Cyber-Security Firm based in Fort Lauderdale, I learned the following tips: 


  1. Acquire a paid and updated anti-virus software. The program needs to be continually updated to remain effective.
  2. Check the browser/URL you are using and check the wifi you are connected to. Not every wifi connection is secure and you need to make sure you are connected to a real and bona fide connection.
  3. Backup and test your data. Your computer is only as good as your last backup. If your files get corrupted or seized, your backup is the only chance you have of getting them back.
  4. Educate yourself and employees on safe online tactics. Hiring a cyber-security firm will also help. Their expertise will help to inform you and your employees about the best practices and teach you to be safe online.


Cyber-security is a major issue. The internet is home billions of users; some looking to benefit from your content and services, while others looking to capitalize on your naivety. 

Stay safe online. Your business depends on it. 


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Google Bets Big On Cell Phones And Why You Should Double Down On Mobile By Todd Paton, President of Paton Marketing


I remember the first time I realized that cell phones were going to have a huge impact on business. It was October 2016 and I read a tweet from Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary tweeted, “The mobile device is now the television and the television is now the radio.”


Reading this changed the direction of my company.
Today, more than 50 percent of website traffic originates from cell phones. As this number increases, it becomes even more critical for websites to not only perform efficiently but also ensure that they are compatible with cell phones.
By July 2019, Google will be updating its algorithms. Slow-loading mobile sites will suffer the consequences, resulting in a significant decrease in traffic. So, if your business relies on website traffic, it would serve you well to become familiar with what Google expects in regard to compatibility and performance on cell phones.
This move reflects the growing trend; signaling an increase in cell phones as the primary path to website commerce. So, it certainly makes sense that as the world’s largest search engine, Google, is adapting and the businesses that rely on their websites and website traffic must adapt as well.
For years, customers have used a business’ website as the measure of how trustworthy and professional that business is, alongside reviews and ratings. A modern, fast and compelling website builds trust in your brand and has the ability to convert visitors into customers. You’ve worked hard to build your brand, so it’s important to keep pace with Google.
Mobile access to websites has increased, leaving desktops behind as the path to online commerce. Your Google rankings are at risk – whether it’s through PPC or SEO initiatives. Today, almost 53 percent of website traffic starts with cell phones. Last year, it was approximately 50 percent. This dynamic will only increase in the coming years.
It’s in the best interest of all businesses to become familiar with what Google expects so that proper adjustments to websites can be made quickly and accurately.
The following are some of the website features that are important:

  1. Crawlability & Indexing
  2. Website Speed
  3. Domain Metrics
  4. Website Audit
  5. Website Usability


While technical in nature, these criteria are among the main features Google will be analyzing when it comes to website accessibility through cell phones. It’s in your best interest to consult with your website development/maintenance firm to make sure they’re aware of Google’s plans.


These terms are basically “GoogleSpeak”, which when translated to layman’s language really means that it’s important for website visitors to have a good user experience. This will result in ease of navigation, improved rankings, SEO, and ultimately increased conversion rates.


A good first step is to access your website through a cell phone. Does it download quickly? Are you able to navigate through the site quickly and efficiently? Today, your website better perform as well on the cell phone – or better —  as it does on a desktop.
The following are other pointers that can improve the performance of your website:


  1. Make regular updates to your website (Blogging is the easiest way to do this)
  2. Insert social media icons you are active on (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.) on your site to facilitate the sharing of information
  3. Use Google Analytics, a free service that tracks website traffic
  4. Incorporate VIDEO on your website! 
  5. Use internal links to enhance navigation


We have created a complimentary service allowing businesses to audit their sites to find out where they are deficient.


The world of online marketing continues to change rapidly. Today, it requires websites to be more accessible through cell phones. In the near future, Google will have new requirements when it comes to marketing services and products.


This is the reality of working with Google. Keep in mind, the online world is Google’s sandbox, and we must play by their rules.


Your business depends on it.

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