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Beware! Innocent-looking apps with 2 million installs are engaging in malicious activities

When installing apps from the Google Play Store, we operate with the feeling that the Mountain View giant only hosts secure, vetted apps on its official apps marketplace, but often times, the company doesn’t realize until after an app has been downloaded several times that it’s actually malicious and needs to be removed.
IT security solutions provider Dr.Web as published a list of apps that are not what they appear to be and have been downloaded by more than 2 million Android users (via Bleeping Computer).
Four of the apps, which are mentioned below, are actually HiddenAds malware. On the surface, they look like games, but once you download them, they try to become invisible either by using Google Chrome’s icon or using a transparent icon image. They silently run in the background and launch ads on your phone’s browser to generate revenue for their developers. Here are their names:
  • Super Skibydi Killer – 1,000,000 downloads
  • Agent Shooter – 500,000 downloads
  • Rainbow Stretch – 50,000 downloads
  • Rubber Punch 3D – 500,000 downloads

The next group of apps are a part of the FakeApp family and their aim is to make users go to investment scam websites. Here are some of them:

  • Eternal Maze (Yana Pospyelova) – 50,000 downloads
  • Jungle Jewels (Vaibhav Wable) – 10,000 downloads
  • Stellar Secrets (Pepperstocks) – 10,000 downloads
  • Fire Fruits (Sandr Sevill) – 10,000 downloads
  • Cowboy’s Frontier (Precipice Game Studios) – 10,000 downloads
  • Enchanted Elixir (Acomadyi) – 10,000 downloads

Many apps belonging to the notorious Joker family also made it to Google Play. The main motive of these apps is to make victims sign up for premium paid services. Following are some of the Joker family apps that were found on the app store:

  • Love Emoji Messenger (Korsinka Vimoipan) – 50,000 downloads
  • Beauty Wallpaper HD (fm0989184) – 1,000 downloads

Thankfully, all the apps mentioned above have been removed by Google Play but if you have already downloaded them, you’ll need to remove them from your phone. As a precaution, you might consider scanning your phone using Play Protect or a smartphone antivirus.

This is not the first and – much against our wishes – probably not the last time that harmful apps were approved by Google Play. While it’s a good first step to download apps from a trusted source, you must never let your guard down and inspect an app yourself before downloading it by going through user reviews and ensuring the developer is trustworthy.

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