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Google Play Store apps hiding malware
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Security & privacy

App warning! 52 dangerous downloads spotted – Check your phone

While the safest place to download apps is from an official store, this is not always foolproof. Hackers and scammers can slip in malicious apps and cause severe damage before they’re caught.

Getting an app onto the Google Play Store is easier when compared to Apple’s App Store. Apple has higher standards for entry plus iOS is a closed ecosystem, while Android is open source. Tap or click here for eight dangerous malware apps you need to remove right now.

More bad apps are being found and taken down from the Play Store. Does this mean more malicious apps exist or are people getting better at spotting them? A whopping 52 malicious apps were just removed from the Play Store. You need to check this out.

Google can’t do everything itself

As big as it is, even Google needs a little help sometimes. This is especially important when identifying malicious apps on the Play Store. And this is where cybersecurity researchers step in.

Researchers at cloud security company Zscaler recently discovered over 50 malware-infected Android apps on the Play Store. The apps employed three malware families: Joker, Facestealer and Coper.

Zscaler told Google about the apps, which promptly removed them from the Play Store. Keep reading to check the list and determine if you’re at risk.

Check your apps against this list and delete, delete, delete!

Do you have any of the following apps installed on your Android device? Here’s the list of malicious apps discovered by Zscaler (50 of them use Joker malware, while the last two use Facestealer and Coper):

  1. Simple Note Scanner — com.wuwan.pdfscan
  2. Universal PDF Scanner — com.unpdf.scan.read.docscanuniver
  3. Private Messenger — com.recollect.linkus
  4. Premium SMS — com.premium.put.trustsms
  5. Smart Messages — com.toukyoursms.timemessages
  6. Text Emoji SMS — messenger.itext.emoji.mesenger
  7. Blood Pressure Checker — com.bloodpressurechecker.tangjiang
  8. Funny Keyboard — com.soundly.galaxykeyboard
  9. Memory Silent Camera — com.silentmenory.timcamera
  10. Custom Themed Keyboard — com.custom.keyboardthemes.galaxiy
  11. Light Messages — com.lilysmspro.lighting
  12. Themes Photo Keyboard — com.themes.bgphotokeyboard
  13. Send SMS — exazth.message.send.text.sms
  14. Themes Chat Messenger — com.relish.messengers
  15. Instant Messenger — com.sbdlsms.crazymessager.mmsrec
  16. Cool Keyboard — com.colate.gthemekeyboard
  17. Fonts Emoji Keyboard — com.zemoji.fontskeyboard
  18. Mini PDF Scanner — com.mnscan.minipdf
  19. Smart SMS Messages — com.sms.mms.message.ffei.free
  20. Creative Emoji Keyboard — com.whiteemojis.creativekeyboard.ledsloard
  21. Fancy SMS — con.sms.fancy
  22. Fonts Emoji Keyboard — com.symbol.fonts.emojikeyboards
  23. Personal Message — com.crown.personalmessage
  24. Funny Emoji Message — com.funie.messagremo
  25. Magic Photo Editor — com.amagiczy.photo.editor
  26. Professional Messages — com.adore.attached.message
  27. All Photo Translator — myphotocom.allfasttranslate.transationtranslator
  28. Chat SMS — com.maskteslary.messages
  29. Smile Emoji — com.balapp.smilewall.emoji
  30. Wow Translator — com.imgtop.camtranslator
  31. All Language Translate — com.exclusivez.alltranslate
  32. Cool Messages — com.learningz.app.cool.messages
  33. Blood Pressure Diary — bloodhold.nypressure.mainheart.ratemy.mo.depulse.app.tracker.diary
  34. Chat Text SMS — com.echatsms.messageos
  35. Hi Text SMS — ismos.mmsyes.message.texthitext.bobpsms
  36. Emoji Theme Keyboard — com.gobacktheme.lovelyemojikeyboard
  37. iMessager — start.me.messager
  38. Text SMS — com.ptx.textsms
  39. Camera Translator — com.haixgoback.outsidetext.languagecameratransla
  40. Come Messages — com.itextsms.messagecoming
  41. Painting Photo Editor — com.painting.pointeditor.photo
  42. Rich Theme Message — com.getmanytimes.richsmsthememessenge
  43. Quick Talk Message — mesages.qtsms.messenger
  44. Advanced SMS — com.fromamsms.atadvancedmmsopp
  45. Professional Messenger — com.akl.smspro.messenger
  46. Classic Game Messenger — com.classcolor.formessenger.sic
  47. Style Message — com.istyle.messagesty
  48. Private Game Messages — com.message.game.india
  49. Timestamp Camera — allready.taken.photobeauty.camera.timestamp
  50. Social Message — com.colorsocial.message
  51. Vanilla Snap Camera — cam.vanilla.snapp
  52. Unicc QR Scanner — com.qrdscannerratedx

Just because Google removed the apps from the Play Store doesn’t mean they’ve been removed from your device. You have to do this yourself. Here’s how:

  • 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.

The three malware families

Here’s a brief rundown of how these malicious apps function:

  • Joker malware 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 the subscription can be difficult. Joker can also intercept passwords, install other apps on your device, bypass two-factor authentication during in-app purchases and take screenshots of your messages. Tap or click here to find and remove four more Android apps spreading Joker malware.
  • Facestealer malware informs users that they can’t use the app without first logging into Facebook. A fake Facebook login screen is shown, and once you put in your credentials, they’re sent to the crooks. Tap or click here to see how Russian criminals use Facestealer to target Americans.
  • Coper malware is a banking Trojan capable of sending and receiving texts, keylogging, locking and unlocking devices, preventing uninstalls and allowing attackers to take control of your device remotely.

How to stay safe now and in the future

Deleting the offending apps is the first step. Now you need to make sure you don’t fall victim to malware. Here are some cybersecurity tips:

  • Turn on Google Play Protect by heading to Google Play Store > Profile > Play Protect > Settings and turn on Scan apps with Play Protect.
  • Check your phone for security updates by going to Settings > System > System update.
  • Open a web browser on your phone and do a Google Security Checkup at myaccount.google.com/security-checkup. Follow the steps to give your device more robust security settings.
  • Only download apps from official app stores. Always go to the official source and double-check that you are installing the correct app.
  • Watch out 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. Stay away if an app wants full access to your text messages or notifications. 
  • Have trustworthy antivirus software on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan of TotalAV Internet Security for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!

Keep reading

Tech security tip: How to remove malware from your phone or computer

There’s one way to spot this costly malware: Check your phone bill

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