No matter how many safeguards are in place, malicious apps often make their way into the Google Play Store. Once installed, those apps can secretly work in the background to generate fraudulent ad clicks or even steal your data.
Now, there's another app you need to be aware of that could compromise your device. It certainly is a scary app, just worse than you're led to believe.
And even though it's been removed from Google Play, it's been downloaded tens of thousands of times. If it's on your smartphone right now, it could have access to some very sensitive information such as your email username and password.
A game even scarier than it pretends to be
The latest Android app (that we know of) to pose a risk on the Google Play Store is called Scary Granny ZOMBY Mod: The Horror Game 2019, which was downloaded more than 50,000 times. While masquerading as a game, the trouble would begin when full-screen ads would start to appear. It would only get worse from there.
The app would also prompt some users (typically Android devices running operating systems released before Oreo) to enter their Google credentials, which was actually turning your username and password over to scammers.
Once in possession of your login info, the malicious program would log into Google accounts and steal data from specific products like Gmail. That included recovery email addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and verification codes.
The app was identified by researchers at London-based mobile security company Wandera, which provided details to media company CyberScoop.
While they don't know what the stolen data is being used for, Wandera's vice president of product, Michael Covington, told CyberScoop the program would get into the profile section of Gmail, then go tab-by-tab taking screenshots of personal information.
Finding malicious apps on your smartphone
A recent study found there are potentially thousands of fake, malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store that impersonate some of the most popular programs. Scary Granny seems to have fit that bill, too, as a counterfeit version of a puzzle game called Granny, which has about 100 million downloads.
With Scary Granny, there were big red flags. Before the game would even launch for most people, it would ask for a $22 payment to play. For those it prompted to enter Google credentials, the page would say "Sing In" instead of "Sign In."
That's why it's important to look for clues like misspelled words and be mindful of permissions any app is requesting. Even before that, check to see if the app developer seems reputable before downloading, and read reviews while keeping in mind that some of those could be fake as well.
If you think your smartphone might have a virus, we've got tips to help. Click or tap here to spot the signs of a virus and what to do about it.
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