StageFright+MMS workaround for KitKat

StageFright+MMS workaround for KitKat

The image-parsing bug in the Android module called “StageFright” is making a lot of headlines because it can be triggered just by receiving a malicious MMS.There’s a workaround to turn off auto-parsing of MMS — this workaround is well-documented around the web but not well-publicized, so here’s my PSA. 🙂

If your phone runs Android and is not yet patched for the bug in StageFright, here are the steps to reduce your risk. These steps are for KitKat — See below for notes about Lollipop.

1) open the Hangouts app

2) open the hamburger menu in upper left and select Settings

3) click SMS

4) If Hangouts is not your default SMS app then make it so by clicking the topmost setting (yes, this does mean that you have to switch texting apps but it won’t lose your past texts)

5) scroll down to “Advanced” and disable “Auto retrieve MMS”

Once you’ve done this, you have to explicitly click on a malicious MMS to be hacked by the bug in StageFright.

If you’re running Lollipop (I’m not yet) then I believe the default Messages app now has the “Auto retrieve MMS” checkbox too, so you don’t need to switch apps. Jellybean is probably the same as Kitkat.