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Malicious apps found spying on your private text messages

Malicious apps found spying on your private text messages
© Kiosea39 | Dreamstime

One reason smartphones have become such a big part of our lives is their ability to run apps. There are millions of them to choose from. You can download games, health trackers, video chat services like Skype and FaceTime, and so much more.

Typically, it's safe to download apps from Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. However, there are a couple of malicious apps that have made it to one of these official app stores that you need to watch out for.

What Android apps must you avoid?

Android phones are increasingly targeted with malware and these attacks are mounting fast. Although the Google Play Store is still the safest source of Android apps, rogue apps still manage to slip through the cracks, eluding Google's screening process.

Two malicious apps were recently discovered in the Google Play Store by SophosLabs. One is named, "Skin Care Magazine" and the other is, "App Play Store." Both of these malicious apps are from a developer dubbed New.App.

Both apps fetch dangerous plugins that are designed to steal your SMS (text) messages. Scammers are looking to steal your information, which can lead to identity theft or a number of other horrifying outcomes.

How the scam works is, once the apps are launched they begin the process of downloading malicious plugins from a remote website. Many apps that are safe retrieve plugins in the same way, by connecting to another site. Which is why it's nearly impossible to know if they are malicious ahead of time.

That's why it's important to take safety precautions. Use the following suggestions to stay safe from malicious apps.

How to stay protected from malicious apps

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. Google Play and Apple's App Store are the most secure way to download apps. The malicious apps mentioned in this article are in fact in the Google Play Store, which is rare.
  • Have strong anti-virus software - This is the best way to block malware from infecting your gadget.
  • 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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