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Android apps spreading malware
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Security & privacy

Check your phone! Dozens of dangerous apps spotted

Earlier this month, several malicious Android apps appeared on the Google Play Store. Most contained a banking Trojan that steals your financial information and other personal details. While those are no longer available, more are now taking their place.

Malware comes in different forms, and cybercriminals continually improve technology for their attacks. This makes it more difficult for companies like Google and Apple to find and eliminate threats.

Read on to see how the latest group of malicious apps work and what you can do to stay safe.

Here’s the backstory

Cybersecurity researchers from Bitdefender recently found more than 35 additional bad apps. Many of which are spreading adware. This malware version infects your device and serves you with ads, earning money for the criminals behind the attack.

The apps have a combined total of over 2 million downloads. One thing that makes some of these bad apps more dangerous is that once you download them, they change icons and names, making them difficult to spot and remove. They then begin serving aggressive advertising.

As Bitdefender explains, criminals use this common technique to “monetize their presence” on the Google Play Store.

But advertising isn’t the only problem with these apps. “Many legitimate apps offer ads to their users, but these ones show ads through their own framework, which means they can also serve other types of malware to their victims,” Bitdefender says.

Here is the list of bad apps to avoid:

  1. GPS Location Maps
  2. Personality Charging Show
  3. Image Warp Camera
  4. Animated Sticker Master
  5. GPS Location Finder
  6. Walls Light – Wallpaper pack
  7. Big Emoji – Keyboard 5.0 APK Download
  8. Grad Wallpapers – 3D Backdrops
  9. Engine Wallpapers Live & 3D
  10. Stock Wallpapers
  11. EffectMania
  12. Art Filter – Deep Photoeffect
  13. Fast Emoji Keyboard APK
  14. Create Sticker for Whatsapp 2.0 APK
  15. Math Solver APK – Camera Helper
  16. Photopix Effects – Art Filter 2.0 APK
  17. Led Theme – Colorful Keyboard 2.0 APK
  18. Keyboard – Funny Emoji,Sticker 2.0 APK
  19. Smart Wifi 1.0 APKs
  20. My GPS Location 1.0 APKs
  21. Image Warp Camera 1.0 APKs
  22. HD christmas fantasy girl wallpapers
  23. Cat Simulator 1.0 APKs
  24. Smart QR Creator 1.0 APKs
  25. Colorize Old Photo-Asia
  26. GPS Location Finder 1.0 APKs
  27. Girls Art Wallpaper 1.0 APKs
  28. Smart QR Scanner 1.0 APK
  29. GPS Location Maps 1.0 APKs Download
  30. Volume Control 1.0 APKs
  31. Secret Horoscope 1.0 APKs
  32. Smart GPS Location 1.0 APKs
  33. Animated Sticker Master 1.0 APKs
  34. Pika! Charging show – charging animation
  35. Sleep Sounds 1.0 APKs
  36. QR Creator 1.0 APKs
  37. Media Volume Slider 1.0 APKs
  38. Phi 4K Wallpaper – Anime HD 2.0 APK

Digging a bit deeper, researchers found that the GPS Location Maps app quickly changed its name and icon to resemble the Settings app on Android. On some testing devices, the app requested permissions to bypass the battery optimization feature and start foreground services notifications.

So, not only does it serve you with lots of advertising, but it also prevents your phone from stopping the app, which drains your battery.

What you can do about it

There are a few ways to minimize the risk of exposure to malicious apps. Here are a few suggestions:

  • 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.
  • 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!

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