As the holidays inch closer, many people are looking for ways to make some extra cash. Legitimate side hustles can help put extra money in your pocket. Tap or click here for 15 suggestions.
But one trendy way to easily earn money isn’t what it claims to be. An app that promises you’ll get paid just for watching videos is actually hiding malware.
Read on to see how this malicious app works and what you can do about it.
Here’s the backstory
Apps go through a vetting process before being available on the official app stores. Apple has a closed ecosystem with stringent security measures, but Google’s Android operating system is less secure.
This allows scammers to inject malware or fraudulent apps into the app store more easily. One such app is TubeBox, discovered by anti-malware company Dr. Web. The app promises you a financial reward for watching videos and ads, but there are many issues when it comes to cashing out.
Here’s how the app is supposed to work. You watch videos and ads and rewards are deposited into your internal account. Once you hit a minimum number of rewards, you can convert them into real money and have it transferred into your bank account. But that’s when the problems arise.
According to a Dr. Web blog post, you would never actually receive your payment even if you reached the minimum number of views. The app would show issues with the payment system, claiming you would get paid as soon as the problems were cleared up.
In reality, the people behind the app are just stringing you along, hoping you’ll continue to watch ads and videos. That’s because they receive money for views, not you. It’s an elaborate scheme to trick people into doing the work for them, so they don’t have to.
With over a million downloads, the app uses the Program.FakeMoney malware that promises cash for watching videos. In addition to generating income for scammers, it can include code to steal your personal information.
If you have the TubeBox app on any of your devices, delete it ASAP. Don’t forget to tell family and friends to do the same. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only malicious app on the Google Play Store. Keep reading for details on a few more you should avoid.
How to keep malware-infested apps off your devices
Researchers analyzed hundreds of Android apps and found several more that harbor malware. These include:
- Bluetooth device auto connect with 1,000,000 downloads.
- Bluetooth & Wi-Fi & USB driver with over 100,000 downloads.
- Volume, Music Equalizer with 50,000 downloads.
- Fast Cleaner & Cooling Master with over 500 downloads.
If you have any of the apps installed on your Android phone, you must remove them immediately. Here’s how:
- Long-press an app, then tap App Info > Uninstall.
- Or go to Settings > Apps & Notifications to see a list of your apps and delete them the same way.
- You can also open the Google Play Store app and navigate to Menu > My apps & games. Tap on the app and hit Uninstall.
There are ways to avoid downloading apps hiding malware. Here are some suggestions.
- Turn on Google Play Protect by heading to Google Play Store > Profile > Play Protect > Settings and turn on Scan apps with Play Protect.
- Keep your phone updated with the latest patches and fixes. We alert you to those over at Komando.com. Tap or click here to try Kim’s free email newsletters to get the alerts right to your inbox.
- Use two-factor authentication and password managers for better security. Tap or click here for details on 2FA.
- 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!