Android users are being advised to stay vigilant against a dangerous variant of the DroidKungFu malware currently spreading across smartphones. Despite its ludicrous name GingerMaster is a highly potent beast, infecting Android 2.3 handsets using a root exploit that gives hackers complete control of the operating system.

GingerMaster makes its way onto unsuspecting Android smartphones via a seemingly innocuous file named gbfm.png which is planted into compromised copies of legitimate Android apps. So far the malware is confined to third-party app stores, although according to the research team at NC State University it is able to avoid detection by several high profile anti-virus apps.

Both DroidKungFu and GingerMaster work by garnering root access to your Android and installing a secret background service that extracts personal information from your device including its ID number, phone number and other data. This information is then uploaded to a remote server for hackers to harvest, while the malware can also download and install apps without the owner’s knowledge or permission.

For Life Of Android’s top advice to keep your smartphone clear from malware, check our our 6 tips to beat the hackers.

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