Android security flaw impacts 900 million phones worldwide

      File photo: Wikimedia Commons

      A major security flaw may be placing any Android smartphone bought over the last four years at risk for takeover by hackers, according to a security firm.

      Bluebox Security, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup, says that nearly 900 million devices that run the Android operating system could be targeted. A hacker could then go as far as to take over the entire phone remotely or steal data from the device.

      In a blog posted to the company's website, Bluebox CTO Jeff Forristal called the risk to both individual Android users and the platform itself "great."

      "A malicious app can access individual data, or gain entry into an enterprise," Forristal wrote.

      Forristal says that if a hacker is able to gain access to your phone, they have the ability to read emails, text messages and take any account information or passwords stored there. If the phone is fully taken over, that person would also be able to make phone calls, send text messages or even record calls.

      Natasha Lomas of TechCrunch points out that the flaw has not been widely exploited and that Google, which produces and maintains Android, is likely working on a fix.

      Google also says that they've modified the way developers can submit applications to the Google Play store to increase security.

      A July 2 report from the International Data Council, which tracks smartphone sales and usage worldwide, indicated that 93 percent of all smartphone shipments over the first quarter of 2013 ran Android.

      52 percent of all American smartphone users own a phone that runs Android, while 41.9 percent own an Apple iPhone.