You can never be too careful when it comes to cybersecurity. You’re vulnerable if you’re connected to the internet, be it through your phone or computer.
Hackers and scammers use malware to target your personal and financial information. Even worse, these hacking tools are available for anyone who wants to purchase them, including the government. Tap or click here for our report.
Malware can come from anywhere, including official sources. Google recently blocked four popular apps from the Play Store that were loaded with dangerous malware designed to steal your money. Read on for more information and tips on avoiding falling victim to these scams.
This Joker is no laughing matter
Cybersecurity researchers at Pradeo discovered four apps on the Google Play Store spreading Joker malware. More than 100,000 people have installed the apps.
Joker is a type of fleeceware which typically lures you in with free trials that automatically switch to a subscription upon expiration. Once you’re roped in, canceling your subscription can be very difficult. Joker was first detected in 2017.
In the case of these four apps, the Joker malware can intercept passwords, install other apps on your device, bypass two-factor authentication during in-app purchases and take screenshots of your messages.
You won’t even know it’s there unless you notice a surge in your phone’s data usage resulting from malicious activity. Tap or click here for tips on spotting malware via your phone bill.
Google removed the apps from the Play Store. If you have one or more of these four apps, you need to remove them immediately:
- Smart SMS Messages.
- Blood Pressure Monitor.
- Voice Languages Translator.
- Quick Text SMS.
Here’s how to delete an app from your Android phone:
- Open the Google Play Store app.
- At the top right, tap the Profile icon.
- Tap Manage apps & devices > Manage.
- Tap the name of the app you want to delete.
- Tap Uninstall.
What to look out for
Pradeo points out a pattern to spot malicious apps in the Play Store:
- The developer account only has one app.
- Once the app is banned from the app store, you’ll see it reappear.
- The app is not related to any company name or website.
Protect yourself ahead of time
Just a few simple precautions can protect your private information and wallet from crooks:
- Keep your phone’s operating system up to date. Apple’s iOS is up to version 15.5, and the latest Android OS version is 12.1.
- Only download apps from official app stores. Always go to the official source and double-check that you are installing the correct app.
- Apps on the Google Play Store aren’t 100% safe, however. Be on the lookout for apps that use a similar logo to other popular apps or have similar functions. Also, check reviews to see if others are warning about suspicious activity.
- Pay attention to permissions. If an app wants full access to your text messages or notifications, stay away.
- Always have a trusted antivirus program on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. This award-winning antivirus security suite offers built-in adware, ransomware and malware protection. Right now, get an annual plan for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price.