Malicious apps available on the Android operating system, carrying viruses that display ads or steal information from users, racked up more than two million downloads on the Play Store in May. The information signals constant malicious campaigns, which take advantage of the presence of software in the official Google store to apply scams while disguising themselves as games, utility apps and security solutions.
An ugly survey by Dr. Web, focused on digital security, shows at least nine fraudulent apps of this type in wide activity and being responsible for two million installations. Of these, at least five remained on the air until the publication of this report, further increasing the potential for contamination from the promise of photo editors, horoscopes and animal life wallpapers.
The most serious case is that of PIP Pic Camera Photo Editor, which remains available and can steal users’ Facebook credentials, with numbers from the official Android store showing more than a million downloads. The same is also true for the ZodiHoroscopewhich gives predictions and displays fake pages on behalf of the social network for the victim to enter their login information.
According to the study by Dr. Web, data-stealing viruses were the most present threat to the Android ecosystem in May, alongside adware. These pests display ads where they shouldn’t exist or replace legitimate advertisements, with all the income earned from the views going into the pockets of criminals. Of the five apps that are still available on the official store, two act in this way, with one of them, the Wild & Exotic Animal Wallpapereven changing its name on the system to avoid detection and uninstallation.
Other apps already removed from the official marketplace include racing games, systems that promise to recover deleted images and videos, and even an app that advertised free access to adult content from the OnlyFans platform. While the threats have now been taken down, whoever installed them could still be in danger.
The Android.Spy.4498 malware, which steals data, was still the most frequent threat against the operating system in May, even though its spread dropped by 13.4%. On the other hand, Dr. Web recorded growth of Android.HiddenAds, which as the name implies, displays fraudulent ads and increased its presence by 13.5%, ranking second and third with two variants.
Below is the list of apps found by the search, which registered the adware in the Play Store. Although many have been removed from the Google store, a lot of people can still have them installed on their phone. If so, remove them immediately:
- PIP Pic Camera Photo Editor
- PIP Camera 2022
- Camera Photo Editor
- Light Exposure Photo Editor
- ZodiHoroscope – Fortune Finder
- Flashlight Magnifier
- Wild & Exotic Animal Wallpaper
- SIM Tool Kit
- Driving Real Race
- Only Fans App OnlyFans Android
How to protect yourself from fake apps on Android
Paying attention to the download pages, before clicking to install, is the best path to protection. The comments are usually enough to indicate the danger, since many of these apps do not deliver what they promise while carrying out the infection. Keeping antivirus and security software installed and up to date on your phone also helps to identify the most common threats.
Finally, the ideal is always to look for solutions from recognized developers, being suspicious of solutions recently registered on the Play Store or that promise free access to paid platforms or services. When in doubt, avoid downloading and installing the application.
Source: Dr. web