Craft

These Malware Apps Are Still Live on the Google Play Store

Photo: BigTunaOnline (Shutterstock)

Malware is a problem that affects all platforms—including Apple—but it’s Android that seems to face the majority of cases these days. Stories pop up far too frequently concerning newly discovered batches of malicious apps on the Play Store. This time, there are four of them, one with over one million installs alone.

Once downloaded, these apps wait 72 hours before rolling out any malicious activity, which involves showing ads as well as automatically opening phishing links in your mobile browser. This activity continues every two hours, including when your phone is locked, so victims are subjected to this intrusive content no matter what.

Normally when I report on stories like this one, the apps in question are often off the Play Store by the time I start writing. Google is usually quick to remove any apps identified as malicious, so when we hear about it, they’re DOA. The main goal, then, is to help readers identify if they downloaded any of the named apps to their smartphone, so they can promptly delete them.

However, this story is different. As of this writing, the apps and their developer, “Mobile apps Group,” are still live on the Play Store. To make matters worse, this isn’t the developer’s first rodeo. As reported by Malwarebytes Labs, Mobile apps Group has been cited twice in the past for distributing malicious apps on the Play Store. Somehow, the developer is still active on Google’s marketplace, currently offering four apps that have all been flagged for malware.

The four apps are:

  • Bluetooth Auto Connect: 1,000,000+ downloads
  • Bluetooth App Sender: 50,000+ downloads
  • Driver: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB: 10,000+ downloads
  • Mobile transfer: smart switch: 1,000+ downloads

If you have one of these four apps on your Android device, be sure to delete it ASAP. Bluetooth Auto Connect has over one million downloads alone, which means there are a lot of potentially infected devices out there.

How to know if an app contains malware before downloading it

It can be difficult to know if an app is malicious or not before downloading it, but there are some signs to look out for. First, read its Play Store page carefully. Do the descriptions match the advertised use? The same goes for the preview images. Don’t forget to check out the reviews, either, especially recent ones. A bunch of poorly-written reviews that don’t mention the app’s purpose are a red flag, and suggest the developer is using fake reviews to inflate the app’s rating.

However, in the case of these four apps, the reviews are negative, and point out how often users deal with pop-ups. Diving into these ratings can paint a picture of the app in question, and help inform whether or not it’s safe to download.

   

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