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:
- GPS Location Maps
- Personality Charging Show
- Image Warp Camera
- Animated Sticker Master
- GPS Location Finder
- Walls Light – Wallpaper pack
- Big Emoji – Keyboard 5.0 APK Download
- Grad Wallpapers – 3D Backdrops
- Engine Wallpapers Live & 3D
- Stock Wallpapers
- Art Filter – Deep Photoeffect
- Fast Emoji Keyboard APK
- Create Sticker for Whatsapp 2.0 APK
- Math Solver APK – Camera Helper
- Photopix Effects – Art Filter 2.0 APK
- Led Theme – Colorful Keyboard 2.0 APK
- Keyboard – Funny Emoji,Sticker 2.0 APK
- Smart Wifi 1.0 APKs
- My GPS Location 1.0 APKs
- Image Warp Camera 1.0 APKs
- HD christmas fantasy girl wallpapers
- Cat Simulator 1.0 APKs
- Smart QR Creator 1.0 APKs
- Colorize Old Photo-Asia
- GPS Location Finder 1.0 APKs
- Girls Art Wallpaper 1.0 APKs
- Smart QR Scanner 1.0 APK
- GPS Location Maps 1.0 APKs Download
- Volume Control 1.0 APKs
- Secret Horoscope 1.0 APKs
- Smart GPS Location 1.0 APKs
- Animated Sticker Master 1.0 APKs
- Pika! Charging show – charging animation
- Sleep Sounds 1.0 APKs
- QR Creator 1.0 APKs
- Media Volume Slider 1.0 APKs
- 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!