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Play Store Woes for Google Continue as Fake Apps See Nearly 6 Million Downloads

Google has once again removed numerous malicious apps from the company’s Play Store after they were downloaded nearly 6 million times by users. The apps had been revealed to be stealing users’ Facebook login information.

In an article by researchers from Dr. Web, it was stated that the apps were working as any other application on the store would therefore leaving the unsuspecting victim none the wiser. They were then promised ad-free use of the app or unlock new features if they connected it to their Facebook account. What's more, "The advertisements inside some of the apps were indeed present, and this maneuver was intended to further encourage Android device owners to perform the required actions." they said.

The offending apps catered to what many users seek out in an app, masking their malicious intent behind other popular apps such as photo editing, device optimization, fitness, and astrology programs. They then tricked victims into logging into their Facebook accounts which were then uploaded to the hackers' server.

The list of apps are as follows

  • PIP Photo (>5,000,000 installs)

  • Processing Photo (>500,000 installs)

  • Rubbish Cleaner (>100,000 installs)

  • Horoscope Daily (>100,000 installs)

  • Inwell Fitness (>100,000 installs)

  • App Lock Keep (50,000 installs)

  • Lockit Master (5,000 installs)

  • Horoscope Pi (>1,000 installs)

  • App Lock Manager (10 installs)

While this attack was particularly aimed at capturing users' Facebook details, it is a strong reminder that other campaigns could have very been easily replicated to capture any number of login pages from legitimate web applications or services.

Although the apps were dealt with in a timely manner, this recent discovery of malicious apps came only a matter of days after Google’s new measures for Play store applications were announced, further cementing the need for better measures to be put in place. Google has stated that with the new changes, they will require developer accounts to turn on 2-Factor Authentication, provide an address and verify their details before they can place apps on the Google Play store. This is due to an attempt to make it harder for scammers and to combat fake developer accounts.

However, this perhaps serves best as a reminder to make sure you are only downloading apps from trusted developers and sources to ensure the app is legitimate. It is also important to be cautious of permission requests by apps and check reviews before downloading and installation.

There are a number of different ways that you can ensure your device is protected and your information stays secure. If you would like to learn more about this, do not hesitate to get in touch with us and explore your options.

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