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Malicious apps infecting millions of smartphones and tablets!

Malicious apps infecting millions of smartphones and tablets!
© Ocusfocus | Dreamstime.com

Cybercriminals are annoyingly persistent and ruthless. They're constantly developing new, devious schemes to rip us off.

Sometimes these deviants are able to infect our gadgets and use them for profit without us even knowing about it. That's happening now with malicious apps that are being downloaded from a surprising place.

How your gadget could be infected with malware

Researchers at Check Point have discovered nearly 50 malicious apps in a place you wouldn't expect, the Google Play Store. This is the official app store for Android gadgets and is thought of as a secure environment. Most apps that are infected with malware are found in third-party app stores.

If downloaded, these apps infect your gadget with malware that earns the criminals behind it money by delivering fraudulent mobile adware. The malware, known as FalseGuide, was hidden in nearly 50 fake companion guide apps for some of the most popular games around. They include Pokémon Go, LEGO City My City and FIFA Mobile.

Check Point researchers recently notified Google about the malicious apps and most have since been removed from the Play Store. However, many of the apps were available in the Play Store as early as November 2016 and have been downloaded over 50,000 times. An estimated 2 million users' devices have been infected.

The FalseGuide malware creates a silent botnet with the affected gadgets and uses them for adware. A botnet, to refresh your memory, is a group of gadgets that hackers have quietly taken over. The hackers take control with a virus and then use the combined power of the gadgets to perform large-scale hacks or scams. The gadgets under control can even send spam messages without the owner knowing.

If your gadget is infected with the FalseGuide malware, you will see illegitimate pop-up advertisements from time to time. This is how the cyberciminals make money. The more people who click on the pop-up ads, the more money the scammers collect.

One reason these apps were able to slip past Google's security procedures is due to how the malware is hidden. The apps look legit until they are downloaded onto your gadget. At that point, the app asks for admin permissions, which allows the fraudsters to deliver malicious instructions from the command-and-control server.

Currently, this malware is being used for fraudulent adware purposes, but that could change. If you give these apps admin permissions, the cybercriminals could change their objectives to things like rooting the device or conduct a DDoS attack. That's why you should NEVER give an app admin permission.

Here is a list of the malicious apps

The following is a list of malicious apps found in the Google Play Store:

  • Guide for LEGO Nexo Knights
  • Guide for Rolling sky
  • Guide for LEGO City My City
  • Guide for Terraria
  • Справочник для World of Tanks
  • Руководство для Zombie Tsunami
  • Руководство для Drift Zone 2
  • Руководство для Mobile Legends
  • Руководство для Injustice Gods
  • Руководство для Injustice Gods
  • Руководство для Asphalt 8
  • Справочник для Criminal Case
  • Справочник для NBA LIVE Mobile
  • Справочник для NBA LIVE Mobile
  • Справочник для Subway Surfers
  • Справочник для Zombie Tsunami
  • Справочник для Zombie Tsunami
  • Руководство для Terraria
  • Руководство для Hay Day
  • Руководство для World of Tanks
  • Guide for Pokemon GO
  • Guide Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • ProGuide LEGO Marvel Superhero
  • Guide Dream League Soccer
  • LEGUIDE LEGO City Undercover
  • Руководство для FNAF 2
  • Руководство для Roblox
  • Guide For FNAF 2
  • Инструцкция The Auto Vip City
  • Руководство для Super Mario
  • Руководство Great The Auto 4
  • Руководство для Cadillacs
  • Руководство для Spider-Man 2
  • Инструкция к Super Mario
  • Интсрукция к LEGO Friends
  • Инструкция к Great The Auto 5
  • Инструкция к Great The Auto 4
  • Guide for Cadillacs
  • Guide for Roblox
  • Руководство для League Soccer
  • LEGUIDE LEGO City My City
  • Guide for Rolling Sky
  • Guide for Ninjago Tournament
  • Guide for Hungry Shark World
  • Guide For FIFA 17
  • Guide for slither.io
  • Guide for Mortal Kombat X
  • Guide for Shadow fight 3 and 2

Here are some ways to avoid being infected by a malicious app:

  • App stores - Stay away from third-party app stores because they do little vetting of apps, making it easier for scammers to spread malware there. FalseGuide malware slipping past Google's security and making it into the Play Store is somewhat rare. Google Play and Apple's App Store are the most secure way to download apps.
  • Check the apps' developer - Verifying the name of the app developer is important. Copycat apps will have a different developer's name than the actual one. Before downloading an app, do a Google search to find the original developer.
  • Reviews - Most of the popular apps will have reviews by other users in the app store. You can sometimes find reviews by experts online. These are helpful at pointing out malicious or faulty apps. If you find a review warning the app is malicious, do NOT download it.
  • Update your gadget - Make sure that you have downloaded the latest security and operating system updates. These updates usually include patches to help protect your device from the most recent threats.

If you do think that your Android device has been infected with a virus, don't worry, we've got you covered. Click here to find out how to detect and remove a virus on your Android gadget.

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