Virus analysts have spotted a new batch of malicious apps hiding adware Trojans and the return of the infamous Joker malware family, and they have just under 10 million downloads combined. It was only last week when 50 Android apps with Joker malware were discovered, now more are popping up.
In Dr. June Web, researchers discovered 28 adware trojans built into a selection of otherwise inconspicuous apps, ranging from image editing software and virtual keyboards to calling and wallpaper collecting apps. These apps have millions of downloads, which means that many Android users are plagued by advertisements.
What is adware?
According to Malwarebytes, adware is a way for threat actors to generate revenue by automatically displaying an unpleasant amount of online advertisements on a user’s screen. (opens in new tab). Unlike the ads you see in apps or browsers, this type of unwanted software disguises itself as a legitimate app to trick users into installing it, leading to a lot of ads that will ruin your device.
The adware trojans revealed in the report ask for permission to display windows about other apps or ask users to add them to the exclusion list of the battery saver feature. In addition, these trojans hide their icons from the list of installed apps in the home screen menu and replace icons to make them more difficult to find after a download.
A list of 28 apps with adware trojans shows you what to avoid on Google Play, many of which are photo editors. This list contains Photo Editor: Beauty filter, Photo editor and background eraser, Emoji Keyboard: Stickers and GIF, Cashe Cleaner, FastCleaner: Cashe Cleaner, MyCall – Call Personalization, Auto Changer for 4K Wallpapersand more.
Click here for a full list of apps to avoid.
Joker malware strikes again
Doctor Web also found that Joker malware is sneaking its way into three apps. This malicious threat is known to steal your text messages, contact lists and device information, and according to the report, these trojans are “capable of downloading and executing arbitrary code and subscribing victims to paid mobile services without their knowledge”.
With nearly 100,000 downloads combined, cyber criminals may already be at work tricking users into subscribing to services without their knowledge.
The three apps with the hidden malware threat include the third-party launcher Poco Launchera camera app known as 4K Pro cameraand a sticker collecting app called Heart Emoji Stickers. If any of these apps look familiar, uninstall them now. Also keep an eye out for them in the Google Play Store.
As with any seemingly simple app, it’s a good idea to exercise caution before downloading them, even if they have millions of downloads. If these apps ask for unnecessary permissions, you could be handing valuable personal information to hackers.
Also, always look at the apps review section, especially if you see a large number of one-star reviews. Attackers often use fake five-star reviews to promote their malicious apps. Check out our list of the best antivirus apps to make sure you don’t have any malware threats.