Android owners are, once again, warned about the apps they install on their smartphones. Google has just banned another 50 apps from its Play Store along with anyone who downloaded them before the blocking came into effect over theft of their personal data, interception of text messages and even signing up for health plans. subscription they never wanted or don’t use.
This latest batch of annoying apps has been uncovered by Zscaler’s security team who found that they all carry nasty malware, including the terrifying Joker bug.
Once installed, Joker has the ability to install hidden spyware and premium dialers on devices, which can then sign up unsuspecting users to expensive monthly subscription plans. In the past, some victims have found themselves paying upwards of £240 a year for these fraudulent subscriptions.
Apart from Joker, these apps also had other dangers, including infection with the Coper malware, which can intercept and send text messages, unlock the device screen, prevent uninstallations, and allow attackers to take control and execute commands.
READ MORE: Google bans 8 other popular Android apps – you should remove them immediately
Another threat found in apps was the Facestealer malware, known to target Facebook users with fake Facebook login screens in an attempt to steal usernames and passwords.
The software, which included a camera, keyboard, messaging, and even blood pressure apps, all received a total of 300,000 downloads, making this latest threat quite significant.
YOU CAN FIND THE FULL LIST OF PROHIBITED APPLICATIONS HERE
Speaking of the threat, Zscaler said, “Google Play Store is generally considered to be one of the safest sources for users to find and install Android apps. malware on the Google Play Store.
“Recently, the Zscaler ThreatLabz team discovered applications involving multiple instances of the Joker, Facestealer, and Coper malware families spreading in the virtual marketplace. The ThreatLabz team immediately notified the Google Android Security team of these newly identified threats , and they promptly removed the malware apps from the Google Play Store.”
This is disturbing news, but Zscaler says there are things all Android users can do to avoid falling victim to these app attacks.
Security experts advise being careful before downloading apps unless they come from a known and trusted source.
Look for apps with very high install counts and positive reviews.
Once installed, it’s wise not to grant any permissions unless you fully trust the app and its developers.
It’s also a good idea to avoid installing messaging apps and never trust a link from friends, as this is a tried and tested way for hackers to spread their bugs.
If you fall victim to a malicious app from the Play Store, notify Google immediately.