Security researchers have issued a new warning to Android users and it’s wise to take notice if you happen to have one of the popular applications installed on your smartphone. It’s been revealed Google recently removed over 30 popular apps from its Play Store after it was discovered the software had the ability to bombard users with unwanted adverts and intrusive browser redirects, which would take Android fans to websites without them ever clicking on a link.
The discovery of these malicious and adware-packed apps was made by the team at WhiteOps, which believes a criminal group were behind the threat. These cyber crooks first started uploading the software, designed to mainly target the beauty and selfie market, to Google’s Play Store back in January 2019.
During the earlier period of these attacks, Google’s protection service had been deleting most of the apps a few weeks after they were uploaded due to their malicious nature. In fact, according to WhiteOps most of these applications lasted just 17 days before being blocked.
But despite their short life on the Play Store they still managed to amass over 500,000 downloads which makes the attack extremely serious. If that wasn’t bad enough, things got worse in September 2019 with the criminals changing tactics.
Android warning as Google removes over 30 apps from its popular store
The new threats were made possible by either hiding the malicious code or deleting it completely – which meant they were able to bypass Google’s security. But at any moment it seems the nasty adware could then be re-enabled via a simple update which is why Google has now removed all of the apps from its marketplace despite many of them appearing to be clean.
A total of 38 applications have now been deleted from the Play Store but during their life on the online store, they have been downloaded a total of 20 million times.
In a post on its website, WhiteOps explained: “The White Ops Satori Threat Intelligence and Research Team recently identified and tracked a fraud operation that rendered fraudulent advertising in users’ devices. These apps amassed more than 20 million downloads.
Google Play Store
“What these apps all have in common – besides their fraudulent tactics – is their focus on beauty. Most purport to be selfie apps that add beauty filters to users’ pictures, while at the same time showing ads out of context and making it nearly impossible to remove the apps themselves. In the time since that first app was published, the fraudsters published a new app every 11 days on average. And on average, those apps were pulled down from the Play Store 17 days later.
“These numbers tell a story of a cat and mouse game, in which the Play Store hunts down the fraudster and keeps them in check by removing fraudulent apps as quickly as they’re discovered. The fraudster likely developed a more robust mechanism to avoid detection and removal. A batch of 15 apps, all published after September 2019, had a much slower removal rate using those new techniques.”
We’re listing all of the now-deleted apps below – which were published by WhiteOps – and if you have them installed on your device it’s a good idea to remove them as soon as possible.
• Yoroko Camera – INSTALLS 100,000
• Solu Camera – INSTALLS 500,000
• Lite Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Beauty Collage Lite – INSTALLS 500,000 –
• Beauty & Filters Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Photo Collage & Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 100,0000
• Beauty Camera Selfie Filter – INSTALLS 10,000
• Gaty Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 500,000
• Pand Selife Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 50,000
• Catoon Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Benbu Selife Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Pinut Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor – INSTALLS 1 million
• Mood Photo Editor & Selife Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 500,000
• Rose Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor – INSTALLS 100,000
• Fog Selife Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 100,000
• First Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor – INSTALLS 5000,000
• Vanu Selife Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 100,000
• Sun Pro Beauty Cameraa – INSTALLS 1 million
• Funny Sweet Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 500,000
• Little Bee Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Beauty Camera & Photo Editor Pro – INSTALLS 1 million
• Grass Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Ele Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Flower Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 100,000
• Best Selfie Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Orange Camera – INSTALLS 500,000
• Sunny Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 1 million
• Pro Selfie Beauty Camera – INSTALLS 500,000
• Selfie Beauty Camera Pro – INSTALLS 1 million
• Elegant Beauty Cam-2019 – INSTALLS 50,000
Google continues to improve its app security and things are getting better for Android fans but it still taking precautions before downloading anything on to your phone. Firstly check that the developer is reputable and is trustworthy. Then read the reviews as this is where you’ll often spot if other users have noticed problems. Lots of low scores and complaints probably mean it’s best to keep clear.