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Security & privacy

Malicious apps found in popular Android app store – What to avoid

If you own an Android, any number of apps can be risky — especially if you download them through unofficial sources. Some pose a danger to your data, and could quietly install malware on your phone.

Even the official Google Play Store doesn’t catch everything. Tap or click here for details on Android apps caught stealing users’ banking information.

If you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you’ll see it has its own Samsung app store that’s separate from Google Play. You might even assume apps on that store are put through similar security checks to prevent malicious software from getting through. That’s apparently not the case, and you should exercise caution before downloading any of these sneaky apps.

Here’s the backstory

Malware has been, and always will be, an ever-growing threat to mobile phone and computer users alike. Cybercriminals hide malicious code in mobile apps and then release them to app stores. Once downloaded to unsuspecting victims, the malware can steal a wealth of personal information.

In a rather ironic twist, the latest malware found on the Samsung Galaxy Store is cloned versions of a notorious film and TV show piracy streaming app — an app you shouldn’t be using anyway. Discovered by Android Police, there are apparently at least five cloned versions of the Showbox app.

Some, but not all, of the fake apps will trigger a warning from Google’s Play Protect when installed on a mobile device. Through Android Police’s investigation, they found that the applications “request more permissions than you’d expect, including access to contacts, call logs and the telephone.”

The real Showbox app has come under fire many times and has been either removed from official apps stores or had their services disrupted. The app is used to illegally stream the latest blockbuster films and TV shows – although officially, it has denied that on multiple occasions.

What you need to know

While the Samsung Galaxy Store is considered an official source for Android apps, you still need to use caution when downloading applications. If multiple clones of the Showbox app can get through, you can bet there are malicious versions of other apps that haven’t been discovered yet.

There are several ways how you can stay safe while enjoying mobile entertainment.

  • Stick to Google’s Play Store for Android downloads. It’s not perfect, but it has additional checks and malware scans that other stores don’t use.
  • Before downloading anything, research the app. Read the reviews to see if users have complained. Run a web search.
  • Make sure that you are downloading the real or official app, even on Google Play. Check developer info.
  • Avoid installing apps that want invasive, unnecessary permissions to access your camera or microphone, or sensitive data like your contacts.

It is also a great idea to clean up your Android device once a month. Delete any files that you no longer need and uninstall any unnecessary apps. To do this on an Android device:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap on Apps & notifications
  • and then tap on the See all apps option.

This will bring up a complete list of all the applications on your device. Go through the list and look for anything suspicious or apps that you don’t want anymore. If you find some, simply tap on the Uninstall button to remove it completely.

🚨 What it means for you

Unfortunately, there’s not a single app store that’s 100% secure. Even so, official sources like Apple’s App Store on iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Androids are still the safest options by far.

✅ There are some apps to stay away from not only because they’re redundant, but because they could also be selling your data to other companies. Tap or click here for five kinds of apps to delete from your smartphone right now.

✅ It’s also a good idea to regularly audit your smartphone and delete apps you no longer use. Here are tips on the right way to clean out your smartphone apps.

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