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Android users, malware riddled apps are flooding the Play Store

Malicious apps are increasingly making their way into the Google Play Store, putting your personal information and device at risk.

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Image: KnowTechie

Think your Android phone is safe from malicious apps? Think again, bucko.

Hackers have devised yet another method to sneak malware-infested software onto the Google Play Store, according to a Kaspersky report.

Malware-infected apps are camouflaged within real apps, sold for $2K to $20K on the dark web. Masquerading as legitimate software, these “dropper apps” quietly slip through the Play Store’s review process.

What apps are affected?

In his report, Kaspersky reveals that popular categories riddled with malware threats are financial apps, cryptocurrency trackers, QR-code scanners, dating apps, and naturally, crypto trackers.

After getting the all-clear, these sneaky apps receive nasty updates straight from hacker-controlled servers.

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Image: KnowTechie

But get this – they only morph into their evil forms after gaining a boatload of users, maximizing the mayhem they can unleash on clueless Android users.

This is some next-level Malware

Therefore, the real danger lies in the extra permissions granted to these apps, allowing hackers to carry out their schemes right under our noses.

Worse yet, these apps detect if they’re being analyzed or sandboxed and halt their activities, foiling security researchers’ attempts at investigation.

However, loader programs aren’t the sole method for slipping malware past Google Play defenses.

Kaspersky draws attention to hackers infiltrating the system with fake developer accounts or snatching authentic accounts with weak passwords or no two-factor authentication.

To make matters even more sinister, they exploit APK binding services, embedding malicious Android installation files within real apps and distributing them through phishing sites or texts.

With APK binding services being wallet-friendly compared to loader programs, they’re gaining popularity among hackers.

However, these underhanded methods don’t strictly rely on the Play Store, rendering them harder to track and stop.

Per BleepingComputer, a Google spokesperson provided this statement:

Google Play has policies in place to keep users safe that all apps must adhere to. All Android apps undergo security testing before appearing in Google Play.

We take security and privacy claims against apps seriously, and if we find that an app has violated our policies, we take appropriate action.

Users are also protected by Google Play Protect, which can warn users or block identified malicious apps on Android devices.

How to protect yourself from these threats

Android phone on table
Image: Pexels

Securing your Android device may seem like waging an eternal war, but it’s really not that hard, you just have to stay vigilant. This means keeping your eyes peeled when downloading apps, opting for a selective approach.

Additionally, be prepared to scrutinize those one-starred ratings, and don’t hesitate to investigate reputable sources for the bigger picture.

Another big one is avoiding public public chargers and investing in a VPN when you’re browsing on a public WiFi network.

Additional tips to protect yourself form Google Play malware

  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Secure your Google account and other critical accounts with 2FA to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Review app permissions: Before installing an app, review the permissions it requests. Be cautious of apps that ask for unnecessary permissions, such as access to your contacts, location, or camera when it’s not required for the app’s functionality.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, as they may lead to phishing sites or contain malware.
  • Use security software: Install a reputable mobile security app or antivirus software to protect your device from malware and other threats.

As Google beefs up Play Store defenses, crafty hackers inevitably discover new workarounds.

So, even with Google Play Protect giving us a helping hand, it’s really up to you to walk the tightrope. Be vigilant.

Keep your eyes peeled – there’s always a digital baddie lurking, so don’t let yourself become their next mark.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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