Another day, another set of nasty applications on the official Google Play Store.
The growing efforts of cyber-criminals to have malicious apps listed on the Google Play Store have resulted in some of the most widely used smartphone applications being exposed to malware and banking trojans in recent years.
Despite efforts made by Google to enhance security, researchers continue to expose malicious campaigns that use innovative tactics to get around corporate safety controls.
Now, the IT security researchers at Bitdefender have identified 35 malicious applications on the Play Store with over two million downloads. These apps are designed with methods of action that allow them to masquerade as legitimate ones by changing their names and icons and bombarding the victim’s device with advertisements.
According to Bitdefender, these ads help cybercriminals achieve their monetary goals along with directing victims to malicious sites or links that drop additional malware on the targeted devices.
In their blog post, BitDefender’s research team stated that the cybercriminals behind the campaign used several methods to trick victims into keeping the malicious apps on their devices. For instance, some of the apps offered version updates that allowed the attackers to hide and evade detection on the device.
Many legitimate apps offer ads to their users, but these ones show ads through their own framework, which means they can also serve other types of malware to their victims. Most of the time, users can choose to delete the application if they don’t like it. But these new malicious apps trick victims into installing them, only to change their name and icons and even take some extra steps to conceal their presence on the device.Bitdefender
However, one positive aspect of this report is that BitDefender identified the malicious campaign using its (soon to be unveiled) behavioral technology designed to analyze malicious app activity after installation.
Behavioral technology in cybersecurity can be used to track malware behavior across all channels, including websites and social media platforms. This data can then be used to improve the security and user experience in real-time.
Bitdefender identified the malicious apps using a new real-time behavioral technology designed to detect precisely these dangerous practices, among many others. This new technology is slowly being rolled out to our customer base and will become available to everyone in the coming months.Bitdefender
List of Malicious Apps
Protection Against Malicious Apps
With more than two billion active Android devices, it is no wonder that the Google Play Store is a target for malware developers. It’s no secret that the Google Play Store is home to some nasty malware including DawDropper, Joker, SharkBot, Xenomorph, and many more.
However, at the same time, it is one of the most secure platforms to download Android apps. So how can you protect your phone from all of the bad stuff? Here are a few tips:
- First, make sure you’re running the latest version of Android. Google is constantly working to improve security on the platform, so newer versions of Android are less vulnerable to attack.
- Next, take a look at the app permissions before installing anything from the Play Store. If an app asks for more permissions than it needs, that’s a red flag that it might be up to no good.
- Install a reputable security app from the Play Store. This will add an extra layer of protection to your device, catching any malware that slips through the cracks.
- Only download apps from trusted sources. This means avoiding third-party app stores and websites – Stick to the Google Play Store.
- Finally, check reviews before downloading an app. If an app has a lot of negative reviews, it’s probably not worth your time. (Read how fake reviews cause 50% of threats against Android).
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