MALWARE ALERT: 29 Popular Apps Pulled From Google Play Store

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Security researchers from Trend Micro have identified 29 apps, purporting to use you device's camera to take better pics or to improve the snaps you shoot, that can access remote ad configuration servers that can be used for malicious purposes. In some cases the apps have been downloaded millions of times.

Although many of the downloads were initiated outside Austrlaia - India is one of the main downloaders of these dicey apps - they could be on your device. Trend Micro has published a list of the apps they found along with the approximate download counts.

Three of the apps, Pro Camera Beauty, Cartoon Art Photo and Emoji Camera, have been downloaded over a million times each with Artistic Effect Filter boasting over 500,000 downloads. Another seven apps in the list were installed over 100,000 times.

In some cases, the installed apps will hide their icon from the application list making uninstallation tricky and many the apps are packaged in such a way as to make analysis of the app's activity difficult.

One of the apps, Beauty Camera, pushes several full screen ads when users unlock their devices, including malicious ads with fraudulent content and pornography via the user’s browser. Clicking the pop-up can result in other software, such s a pornography player being downloaded.

Some of the apps prompt you to upload your photos to an online service where they are "beautified". In reality, the developers are collecting the images to use them in deep fakes or to create fake social media profiles.

Trend Micro did provide some handy advice for detecting potentially unsafe apps.

Look at the app reviews. If there are lots of high scores and lots of low scores but not much in between, that could be a sign of a fraudulent app. The low scores come from real users while the high scores may be from fake users.


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