Though Google does what it can to police its app platform, occasionally some really bad eggs do get through. Apparently, a batch of horrible apps got onto the Google Play store sometime in the past two years, which had backdoors for hackers to gain access to users’ phones.
In a study by antivirus provider Sophos, close to two dozen apps with more than 2 million downloads were discovered on the Play Store, containing a backdoor that allowed them to subtly download files from a hacker controlled-server.
The 22 apps included nondescript titles like Sparkle Flashlight, Zombie Killer, and Table Soccer, the first of those having over 1 million downloads on its own since it appeared on the store in 2016. According to Sophos, it was only later in March this year that Sparkle Flashlight (along with two other apps) were updated to include the malicious backdoor code. The other 19 apps were introduced to the store with the background downloader at the start, sometime after June this year.
Also Read: Don’t Install These 51 Most Dangerous Malware Apps On Your Android Phone From The Play Store
Google did eventually remove the apps, but only by November this year. Until then, attackers were using them to constantly serve up ads and fraudulently generate clicks on them to earn money. Once opened up, these ads would continue to run in the background even if force-closed by a user, draining both Internet data and batteries.
But that’s just the immediate consequences of the apps. Because these kinds of malware employ backdoor systems, they can also be used to force a smartphone to run harmful code, stealing a person’s data in the process.
Worryingly, many of these malicious apps were from developers that also had entries in the iOS App Store, meaning they could have similar apps for your iPhone as well.
While Google has taken down the offending apps from its stores, it’s likely the phones that downloaded them are still infected. So if you’ve downloaded any of these following apps, you need to act immediately.
1) Sparkle FlashLight, 2) Snake Attack, 3) Math Solver, 4) ShapeSorter, 5) Tak A Trip
6) Magnifeye, 7) Join Up, 8) Zombie Killer, 9) Space Rocket, 10) Neon Pong
11) Just Flashlight, 12) Table Soccer, 13) Cliff Diver, 14) Box Stack, 15) Jelly Slice
16) AK Blackjack, 17) Color Tiles, 18) Animal Match, 19) Roulette Mania, 20) HexaFall
21) HexaBlocks, 22) PairZap
We still don’t know for sure if deleting these apps will keep you secure in the future, but it should be a start.