Malware disguised as smartphone games were installed by over half a million Android users —directly from the Google Play store. Security researcher, Lukas Stefanko, from ESET tweeted that the malware, disguised as a driving game, embedded itself in as many as 13 apps.
There have been previous instances of malware making its way into Android applications, such as Android Monaro-Mining malware, Android Facebook-Hacking malware, Loapi Android malware and more. Android just can’t seem to get a break from these attacks.
The affected games were all designed by developer Luiz Pinto and Stefanko provided screenshots of them in his tweets. Two of them had made its way to Google Play store’s trending section before Google discovered them all and took them down, he added.
When a user opened the affected games, it would appear to crash, but actually, the hacker gained complete access to Android’s device network traffic which he would then use to steal data. Stefano also demonstrated this on Twitter
Uninstall any Android app immediately if you have downloaded any recently.
Stefano also shared on Welivesecurity that there are four easy steps that users can use to protect themselves from malicious malware apps:
1. The official download number on the Google Play site is located under the “Additional Information” section at the bottom of the page. Look only at this number for the number of app installations.
2. The blue “verified” check mark symbol is not in Google Play’s system. So you will not see it. However, located in the top right corner of the application’s Google Play page, you will find the “Editor’s Choice”badge.
3. Read the reviews posted by users. Many times a warning will be posted by users who have downloaded a fake app.
4. Lastly, to see if the app is real and not a fake, especially is it was added within just a few days, wait for other users to download it first. Wait a while too if the app has only a few real downloads.
It is unfortunate that two of the 13 malicious apps made its way to the Google Play store’s trending section which made it an even greater danger of being downloaded.