Malware-infected apps hit over 3 million Android devices – delete them now
Bad apps infected with malware that make users subscribe to premium services without their knowledge have been downloaded more than three million times from the Google Play Store. Security researcher Maxime Ingrao of cyber security firm Evina discovered a new malware family called “Autolycus” in eight popular Android apps.
Although Ingrao first found these malicious apps back in June last year and reported his findings to Google, it took the search giant six months to remove six of the apps in question, and the last two were removed only recently.
When bad apps slip past Google’s defenses
All the malicious apps discovered by Ingrao entice users to download them by offering additional features for their camera or keyboard. Together, they have been downloaded more than three million times.
While all of these bad apps have now been removed from the Play Store, if you have any installed on your Android smartphone, they may still be running in the background and logging you into premium subscription services. Many of them also require access to read your text messages, which some users may have allowed.
Here is the full list of apps infected with the Autolycus malware along with how many times they were downloaded:
Vlog Star Video Editor – 1 Million+
Creative 3D Launcher – 1 million+
Funny Camera – 500,000+
Wow Beauty Camera – 100,000+
Gif Emoji Keyboard – 100,000+
Razer Keyboard and Theme – 50,000+
Freeglow Camera 1.0.0 – 5000+
Coco camera v1.1 – 1000+
Surprisingly, the creators of Autolycus also paid for a series of advertising campaigns on various social media platforms to promote their malicious applications. For example, there were 74 different Facebook ad campaigns promoting the Razer Keyboard & Theme app itself, according to Ingrao.
How you can stay safe from malicious Android apps
Even though Google is constantly working to rid the Play Store of bad apps, some still manage to slip through. Because of this reason, you have to be careful always when downloading new apps, even if it is on official sources such as the Play Store, Amazon App Store, or Samsung Galaxy App Store. This gets worse when downloading and installing apps as APK files from unofficial sources.
While looking at reviews is something you should always do before downloading any app, they can be misleading, especially if they are written by bots. In the case of Autolycus-infected apps, popular ones had more negative reviews from real users, while those with fewer downloads still had high ratings due to bots.
Furthermore, you should always carefully check and carefully consider granting permissions to Android apps. Not every app needs access to local storage, your contacts, or messages. Fortunately, Google will now automatically remove permissions from apps you haven’t used in a while to help keep you safe.
Finally, you want to enable Google Play Protect and keep it active on your Android smartphone, as the service checks your device for potentially harmful apps and scans each app for malware and suspicious activity before downloading.