Once again the Google Play Store apps became the talk of the town. New research by McAfee Mobile discovered that a new tide of fake Android apps has made its way to the Google Play Store. The eight Android apps are targeting users in Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. The findings reported over 700,000 downloads of the fake billing apps. But, now Google Play Store removed the infected apps.
These fraudulent apps make unauthorized purchases resulting in users losing money.
All the fake apps belong to the Joker malware group. The malware group has been cheating the Google Play defenses for the last four years. This results in Google removing more than 1700 bogus apps from the Play Store from 2020.
The Joker malware is famous for committing billing frauds and possessing spyware capabilities. This includes stealing contact lists, SMS messages, and device information. The threat actors behind distributing the malware exercise a technique they called versioning. In this method, the malware authors upload a clean version of the app to the Play Store to build trust among the potential victims. Later, they add malicious code through app updates and get the stage set for the victims.
The findings of the report also described the entire process of how the fake apps trick the users into downloading them. Most of the time, these fake apps pose as keyboard skins, photo editors, puzzles, wallpapers, and other apps.
The malware which is already embedded in these apps hijacks the SMS message notifications and makes unauthorized purchases. As mentioned above, while the apps go through the review process where they are checked if they are legitimate for the users so, they submit a clean version first and afterward infect it with malicious code.
The report highlighted eight fraudulent apps in the Google Play Store. These include:
- Picture Editor
- Keyboard Wallpaper
- PIP Photo Maker
- Pop Ringtones for Android
- PIP Camera
- Cool Girl Wallpaper/SubscribeSDK
- 2021 Wallpaper and Keyboard
- Barber Prank Hair Dryer
All these apps are removed from the Play Store. If you’ve downloaded any of these apps then you need to check your phone as it can create problems for you. Uninstall any of these apps right away as they can cost you money loss by making unauthorized purchases.