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Google Removes 24 Play Store Apps That Were Harboring Malware


Given the sheer volume of apps hosted on the Google Play Store, it is cumbersome even for a company with Google's resources to keep track of them all. Google does, however, a stellar job of taking out the trash once in a while and in today's development, over twenty-four apps have been booted off the Play Store. Cybersecurity firm CSIS Security Group found the malicious apps in question.

Recently, a lot of Android devices were hit by “Joker” malware. It let hijackers sign people up to premium subscription services, steal SMS messages, contacts, and even capture key device information such as the serial and IMEI numbers. This trojan was also able to silently click on ads while simultaneously accessing any verification codes sent via SMS — which was used to sign up for these premium subscriptions. For example, in Denmark, Joker can sign the victim up for a 50 DKK/week service (roughly ~6,71 EUR). This strategy works by automating the necessary interaction with the premium offer’s webpage, entering the operator’s offer code, then waiting for an SMS message with a confirmation code and extracting it using regular expressions. Finally, the Joker submits the extracted code to the offer’s webpage, to authorize the premium subscription. The 24 Android apps that were littered with the malware can be found below:

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  • Advocate Wallpaper
  • Age Face
  • Altar Message
  • Antivirus Security — Security Scan
  • Beach Camera
  • Board picture editing
  • Certain Wallpaper
  • Climate SMS
  • Collate Face Scanner
  • Cute Camera
  • Dazzle Wallpaper
  • Declare Message
  • Display Camera
  • Great VPN
  • Humour Camera
  • Ignite Clean
  • Leaf Face Scanner
  • Mini Camera
  • Print Plant scan
  • Rapid Face Scanner
  • Reward Clean
  • Ruddy SMS
  • Soby Camera
  • Spark Wallpaper

Affected users needed to have active SIM from one of 37 nations which are listed as ahead: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Argentina, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States. All the apps in question have been removed from the Play Store after the research firm bought the malware to Google's notice.