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Security & privacy

Check your phone! 17 apps you must delete

It’s 2020, and the start of the new year means letting some of the worst parts of 2019 fade into the background. But let’s be frank: Did you really expect the year to slide by without a single mention of malicious apps on the Google Play store?

It’s understandable if you did. After all, there’s been a renewed focus on cybersecurity in recent months, with glitches and zero-day flaws being patched in record time. Tap or click here to see how TikTok found and removed a dangerous security flaw.

But at this point, it has to be tough for Android fans to feel optimistic about cybersecurity. There were 17 apps on Google Play recently found to contain delayed malware effects that bombard your phone with annoying advertisements. We have the complete list, so if you have any of these apps, delete them now.

A new kind of malware: ‘Riskware’

Cybersecurity researchers at Bitdefender have published a new list of malicious apps available for download on the Google Play store. All of these apps were previously vetted and approved by Google, and they likely remained online due to their special “delayed” effects that happen days after download.

It’s all part of a new, tricky malware pattern researchers are calling “Riskware.” These programs pretend to be ordinary apps, and get away with app store approval due to how boring they initially appear.

But then, usually 48 hours later, the masks slip off. The apps hide their icons, work in the background and start spamming their victims’ phones with ads. To make matters worse, many will display the apps at random intervals, which can make it difficult to detect if the problem is endemic to your phone or not.

Thankfully, Bitdefender’s efforts exposed the problematic programs and prompted Google to begin removing them from its store. As good as this is, wouldn’t it have been better if Google just worked a little harder to block them in the first place? Tap or click here to see how deep the Google Play malware problem runs.

Am I at risk for Riskware? What are the names of the malicious apps?

Unlike previous incidents where Google quietly removed the offending programs before anyone has a chance to do any research, Bitdefender kindly provided their names. If you have any of these programs on your phone, you should delete them immediately:

  • Car Racing 2019
  • 4K Wallpaper (Background 4K Full HD)
  • Backgrounds 4K HD
  • QR Code Reader & Barcode Scanner Pro
  • File Manager Pro – Manager SD Card/Explorer
  • VMOWO City: Speed Racing 3D
  • Barcode Scanner
  • Screen Stream Mirroring
  • QR Code – Scan & Read a Barcode
  • Period Tracker – Cycle Ovulation Women’s
  • QR & Barcode Scan Reader
  • Wallpapers 4K, Backgrounds HD
  • Transfer Data Smart
  • Explorer File Manager
  • Today Weather Radar
  • Big Fish Frenzy
  • Clock LED

Once your phone is cleared of these programs, your device should be fine. That said, you may want to create a backup just in case you run into more malware on Google Play. After all, it seems almost inevitable at this point. Tap or click here to learn how to back up your Android phone, along with all of your other devices and personal data.

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