Finding decent apps for your Android can be tricky. On one hand, you have tons of apps to choose from thanks to Google’s open-ended app store. On the other, a good portion of apps you’ll find on Google Play are buggy, ad-filled or downright malicious.
Every month, it seems like a new batch of scammy or malicious apps shows up on Google Play somehow. Google eventually cracks down on these apps once they’re exposed — but that still leaves plenty of time for people to download them and mess their phones up. Tap or click here to see how many bad apps were in the last batch found on Google Play.
And now, 17 new scam apps have been discovered that install a familiar piece of malware: The Joker. Once the Joker is installed on your phone, it runs in the background and signs you up for subscription services that can drain your bank account. If you want to protect your phone, don’t worry — we have the names of the apps you need to get rid of.
Joker strikes again
If you’ve been downloading apps on your Android device recently, you might want to check it for malware. According to Zscaler, at least 17 apps on Google Play were discovered to be hosting Joker malware — an annoying Android Trojan that spies on your activity and signs you up for expensive subscription services without your permission.
Jokerware is classified as a type of Fleeceware, a malicious app that runs in the background on your phone and generates money for hackers behind it. It does this by signing you up for useless subscription services and clicking ads without you seeing it. Meanwhile, Joker is also able to steal texts, contact information and phone data from victims.
All 17 apps were uploaded to the Google Play Store during the month of September. Thankfully, they didn’t have a chance to spreads to too many devices at this time. Collectively, they were all downloaded around 120,000 times before they were spotted.
Google has since removed the apps from Google Play and disabled them on infected phones through the Play Protect service. It’s still up to users, however, to completely delete them from their devices.
How can I get rid of these scam Android apps?
ZScaler thankfully named all 17 Joker-infected apps. If you have any of the following apps on your device, delete them right away:
- All Good PDF Scanner
- Mint Leaf Message-Your Private Message
- Unique Keyboard – Fancy Fonts & Free Emoticons
- Tangram App Lock
- Direct Messenger
- Private SMS
- One Sentence Translator – Multifunctional Translator
- Style Photo Collage
- Meticulous Scanner
- Desire Translate
- Talent Photo Editor – Blur focus
- Care Message
- Part Message
- Paper Doc Scanner
- Blue Scanner
- Hummingbird PDF Converter – Photo to PDF
- All Good PDF Scanner
To uninstall the apps, open the Settings app and tap the Apps menu option. Scroll through your collection of apps until you find any entries from the list above. Tap on them to uninstall and remove them.
For even more peace of mind, you can also erase your phone and start over with a full factory reset. Tap or click here to see how to perform a factory reset on your Android phone.
This isn’t 100% necessary since Google disabled the apps through Play Protect. But if you’re having performance issues, it’s a good way to remove any lingering problems before they have a chance to get worse.
To make sure you’re not losing anything important, you’ll need to back up your critical files and personal data like texts and your camera roll. If you want to completely back up your phone, you can’t go wrong with our sponsor IDrive. IDrive can host all kinds of backups and filetypes — and gives you enough cloud storage for not just one but all the devices in your home.
If you keep a sharp eye out for the type of apps you download, you won’t run into too much trouble going forward. If only Google was as watchful as we have to be, we might not even need to worry!