Bitdefender, an internet security company, has discovered 35 malicious applications that have managed to get into the Google Play Store.
According to the research, the malicious applications have over two million downloads when taking into account the publicly available data.
They continue to be hidden from users because, according to the Romanian company’s research, they “confuse the user and conceal their presence” by changing their icons and names.
Once installed, they continually slam you with ads because that’s how they make money. These advertisements degrade the user experience and may display ads that, if clicked, could direct users to malicious websites. According to the study, “many legitimate apps offer ads to their users, but these show ads through their own framework, meaning they can also serve other types of malware to their victims.”
The majority of these apps have been removed by Google from the Play Store. However, many independent app stores, including APKSOS, APKAIO, APKCombo, APKPure, and APKsfull, still offer these apps, according to Mint. It provided a list of the harmful apps:
GPS Location Finder (smart.ggps.lockakt)
Grand Wallpapers – 3D Backdrops 2.0 (gb.convenientsoftfiftyreal.threeborder)
Engine Wallpapers (gb.helectronsoftforty.comlivefour)
Stock Wallpapers (gb.fiftysubstantiated.wallsfour)
EffectMania – Photo Editor 2.0 (gb.actualfifty.sevenelegantvideo)
Art Filter – Deep Photoeffect 2.0 (gb.crediblefifty.editconvincingeight)
Fast Emoji Keyboard APK (de.eightylamocenko.editioneights)
Create Sticker for WhatsApp 2.0 (gb.convincingmomentumeightyverified.realgamequicksix)
Math Solver – Camera Helper 2.0 (gb.labcamerathirty.mathcamera)
Photopix Effects – Art Filter 2.0 (gb.mega.sixtyeffectcameravideo)
Led Theme – Colorful Keyboard 2.0 (gb.theme.twentythreetheme)
Animated Sticker Master 1.0 (am.asm.master)
Sleep Sounds 1.0 (com.voice.sleep.sounds)
Personality Charging Show 1.0 (com.charging.show)
Image Warp Camera Walls light – Wallpapers Pack (gb.packlivewalls.fournatewren)
Big Emoji – Keyboard 5.0 (gb.blindthirty.funkeyfour)
How to protect yourself
Install only the apps you require. To make an informed choice, look at the download and review statistics. Apps with lots of downloads but few or no reviews should be avoided. “GPS Location Maps” was one of the malicious applications discovered. Despite having more than 100,000 downloads, it has no reviews.
Always keep in mind to delete useless apps. However, after installation, it was difficult to find these apps. After installation, the ‘GPS Location Maps’ app’s label was changed to ‘Settings.’
Give careful consideration to requests for special permissions. According to the research, some malicious apps even ask for authorization to disable the battery optimization feature and launch foreground services notifications in order to avoid being killed by the system. For the purpose of making quick money, the permission to display over other apps is also requested.
Users can download trustworthy anti-malware software from third parties that can reveal malicious activity.