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36 Malicious Android Apps Found on Google Play—Did You Install Them?

(Credit: Getty Images/SOPA Images)

They’ve been installed on Android devices nearly 10 million times, and some are still available.

By Matthew Humphries

A fresh batch of 36 Android apps containing adware and malware have been discovered on the Google Play Store. They have been downloaded nearly 10 million times, some still remain available, and all need to be removed from Android devices immediately.

As BleepingComputer reports, the malicious apps were discovered by Russian anti-malware company Doctor Web. The functionality advertised by the apps includes photo editing, virtual keyboards, system optimization, wallpaper changers, user interface skins, and a notes/lists app. In all cases, the apps have a secondary purpose of stealing social media accounts, showing the user intrusive ads, or signing them up to premium services.

For the adware-focused apps, each app asks permission to be placed on the battery saver exclusion list so it can run all the time. They also want permission to show overlay windows over other apps. Once installed, they will either hide their app icon or replace it with an icon and name for something else that suggests it’s an essential system app. A full list of the malicious apps is included at the end of this article.

Malicious Poco Launcher app listing on Google Play. (Credit: Doctor Web)

Three apps were discovered that use Android Joker malware to execute arbitrary code and subscribe users to premium mobile services without their knowledge. This trio of apps includes:

  • Poco Launcher
  • 4K Pro Camera
  • Heart Emoji Stickers

A further two apps, called “Water Reminder—Tracker & Reminder” and “Yoga—For Beginner to Advanced,” are used to automatically load websites and click links for banners and ads. Another, simply called “Chat Online,” focuses on dating apps and attempts to grab your personal information or simulates a chat with a real person before demanding payment to keep on chatting.

Finally, there are a couple of apps called “YouToon — AI Cartoon Effect” and “Pista — Cartoon Photo Effect” that are designed to steal data in a bid to gain access to Facebook accounts.

All Android users are encouraged to check their device(s) to ensure none of these apps have been installed. If they have, you need to manually uninstall them and then perform a virus scan to ensure nothing has been left behind.

After that, remain on your guard. Google hasn’t removed all of these apps from Google Play as of this writing, and more could appear. Always check the comments before installing a new app you aren’t 100% sure about, and do some research on the developer to ensure they are legitimate.

The 36 malicious Android apps to check your devices for are:

  • Photo Editor: Beauty Filter (gb.artfilter.tenvarnist)
  • Photo Editor: Retouch & Cutout (de.nineergysh.quickarttwo)
  • Photo Editor: Art Filters (gb.painnt.moonlightingnine)
  • Photo Editor — Design Maker (gb.twentynine.redaktoridea)
  • Photo Editor & Background Eraser (de.photoground.twentysixshot)
  • Photo & Exif Editor (de.xnano.photoexifeditornine)
  • Photo Editor — Filters Effects (de.hitopgop.sixtyeightgx)
  • Photo Filters & Effects (de.sixtyonecollice.cameraroll)
  • Photo Editor : Blur Image (de.instgang.fiftyggfife)
  • Photo Editor : Cut, Paste (de.fiftyninecamera.rollredactor)
  • Emoji Keyboard: Stickers & GIF (gb.crazykey.sevenboard)
  • Neon Theme Keyboard (com.neonthemekeyboard.app)
  • Neon Theme — Android Keyboard (com.androidneonkeyboard.app)
  • Cache Cleaner (com.cachecleanereasytool.app)
  • Fancy Charging (com.fancyanimatedbattery.app)
  • FastCleaner: Cashe Cleaner (com.fastcleanercashecleaner.app)
  • Call Skins — Caller Themes (com.rockskinthemes.app)
  • Funny Caller (com.funnycallercustomtheme.app)
  • CallMe Phone Themes (com.callercallwallpaper.app)
  • InCall: Contact Background (com.mycallcustomcallscrean.app)
  • MyCall — Call Personalization (com.mycallcallpersonalization.app)
  • Caller Theme (com.caller.theme.slow)
  • Caller Theme (com.callertheme.firstref)
  • Funny Wallpapers — Live Screen (com.funnywallpapaerslive.app)
  • 4K Wallpapers Auto Changer (de.andromo.ssfiftylivesixcc)
  • NewScrean: 4D Wallpapers (com.newscrean4dwallpapers.app)
  • Stock Wallpapers & Backgrounds (de.stockeighty.onewallpapers)
  • Notes — reminders and lists (com.notesreminderslists.app)
  • 4K Pro Camera
  • Chat Online
  • Heart Emoji Stickers
  • Pista — Cartoon Photo Effect
  • Poco Launcher
  • Water Reminder—Tracker & Reminder
  • Yoga—For Beginner to Advanced
  • YouToon — AI Cartoon Effect

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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