Android users have been cautioned to remove 15 renown Google Play Store applications that have been discovered to include malicious adware.
This week has not been a great one for Android owners. They were warned their WhatsApp communications could be read irrelevant of the app’s end-to-end encryption, because of a new hack. Now, British security company Sophos has released a report which claims that 15 popular apps are not only containing harmful adware but can also hide themselves on the device.
As if this wasn’t terrible enough, some of the fake apps conceal themselves as harmless system applications in an attempt to fool even the most perspicacious Android fans.
Fortunately, Sophos has noted the names of the scam apps, so you will be able to verify your Play Store downloads to see whether any of these harmful apps have ever been installed on your device.
Here are all the apps in question, as well as a few tips on how to stay safe.
- Flash On Calls & Messages
- Read QR Code
- Imagine Magic
- Generate Elves
- QR Artifact
- Find Your Phone: Whistle
- Scavenger — speed guard
- Auto Cut Out Pro
- Background Cut Out
- Photo Background
- Background Cut Out New
- Auto Cut Out
- Auto Cut Out 2019
Sophos recommends all Android users that have these apps on their devices to delete them right away.
What to Do Now
Some apps show a fake error message when opened, which says it is incompatible with the device. Then, the app redirects users to the Google Maps app with the Play Store in a bid to make them think it is the origin of the issue. While this is taking place, the app will conceal its own app icon from the user’s app drawer, which makes it much difficult to find and remove.
Other apps change their app icon to ‘Google Play Store,’ ‘Update,’ ‘Back Up,’ and ‘Time Zone Service.’ Although each application’s conceal techniques can make them difficult to find, Sophos has provided Android users wanting to uninstall the apps immediately with some advice.
“If you suspect that an app you recently installed is hiding its icon in the app tray, tap Settings (the gear menu) and then Apps & Notifications. The most recently opened apps appear in a list at the top of this page,” the British security company said.
If any of those apps use the renown Android icon and have ‘generic-sounding names’ such as the ones we mentioned above, users should tap the icon, select ‘Force Stop’ followed by ‘Uninstall.’ A real system app would normally have a button named ‘Disable’ rather than ‘Uninstall.’
Even though all of the applications we mentioned above have since been deleted from the Google Play Store, the British security firm has notified of other available systems that could perform similar schemes when downloaded.
As a result, the company recommended users to search and read reviews of any apps downloaded from the Google Play Store to see if there are any reports of odd activity.