A new warning has been brought to Google Play Store users’ attention after more than 30 apps on the Android store were found to be malicious. Google has just deleted 38 more popular apps, that were spamming users with ads and browser redirects.
These redirects would take users to certain websites even without the user clicking on a link first. A team of security researchers at WhiteOps has discovered the malicious apps and suggested a criminal group is behind them.
The malware first started being published in January of 2019 and typically targeted the beauty and selfie niche on Google Play Store. Even though they were identified relatively quickly, the apps were downloaded more than 500,000 times.
Changing the Approach
Later on, in September 2019, the group changed their approach, adding new malicious apps to the Play Store. New software was created to hide their malicious code or simply deleting it, allowing the apps to go undetected by Google’s security tools.
Now, Google has removed a total of 38 such apps from its store, but the applications have already been downloaded a combined total of 20 million times since they first appeared.
Addressing the threat, WhiteOps said: “What these apps all have in common – besides their fraudulent tactics – is their focus on beauty. In the time since that first app was published, the fraudsters published a new app every 11 days on average. And on average, those apps were pulled down from the Play Store 17 days later. These numbers tell a story of a cat and mouse game, in which the Play Store hunts down the fraudster and keeps them in check by removing fraudulent apps as quickly as they’re discovered.”
“The fraudster likely developed a more robust mechanism to avoid detection and removal. A batch of 15 apps, all published after September 2019, had a much slower removal rate using those new techniques,” the security researchers added.
Full List of Dangerous Apps Removed by Google
Here is the complete list of the malicious applications found on the Google Play Store by WhiteOps security researchers.
- Yoroko Camera
- Solu Camera
- Lite Beauty Camera
- Beauty Collage Lite
- Beauty & Filters Camera
- Photo Collage & Beauty Camera
- Beauty Camera Selfie Filter
- Gaty Beauty Camera
- Pand Selife Beauty Camera
- Catoon Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera
- Benbu Selife Beauty Camera
- Pinut Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
- Mood Photo Editor & Selife Beauty Camera
- Rose Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera
- Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
- Fog Selife Beauty Camera
- First Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
- Vanu Selife Beauty Camera
- Sun Pro Beauty Cameraa
- Funny Sweet Beauty Camera
- Little Bee Beauty Camera
- Beauty Camera & Photo Editor Pro
- Grass Beauty Camera
- Ele Beauty Camera
- Flower Beauty Camera
- Best Selfie Beauty Camera
- Orange Camera
- Sunny Beauty Camera
- Pro Selfie Beauty Camera
- Selfie Beauty Camera Pro
- Elegant Beauty Cam-2019
WhiteOps experts have warned Android users about these apps and recommended anyone who has these applications on their mobile devices to remove them as soon as possible to avoid any harm.
Here is a list of Google Play Store alternatives.