If you are an Android smartphone user who is hooked on using beauty apps for slapping on new filters on photos and editing them, then beware! Recently, some of these apps have been exposed to rear their ugly heads and Google had to remove around 36 of them from the Play Store.
A new warning has been issued by researchers at White Ops – the US-based security research company – about a list of 38 Android apps in the beauty niche which has the ability to bombard its users with the completely unwanted and intrusive advertisements and redirects. These, in turn, lead to the users landing on various malicious sites without ever clicking on a link.
The White Ops team which discovered these adware-packed malicious apps believe that they were being run by a cybercriminal group that first started to upload these apps and target the beauty and selfie market in Google’s Play Store way back in January 2019.
Google’s ‘Play Protect’ service, during that period, had already been deleting most malicious apps within a few weeks from their upload date. According to WhiteOps, it took a maximum of 17 days for Google to identify and block malicious apps of such nature. However, somehow, it seems these apps managed to sneak past the radar of Google and were successful in amassing over 20 million downloads.
If this wasn’t already bad enough, things got even worse moving forward into the month of September in the yar 2019 where these alleged cybercriminals started changing their tactics.
They started either meticulously hiding the malicious code or deleting it completely, in order to bypass the security of Google. In case these cybercriminals chose to delete the malicious code in the initial stage, they re-enabled it by simply pushing an update to these apps after they were approved by the Google Play Store.
As a safety precaution, right now, Google has chosen to delete all the apps which have been reported by WhiteOps to having malicious intent despite them appearing clean.
The White Ops Satori Threat Intelligence and Research Team, in their blog, explained how new malicious apps in the same category were being continuously uploaded every 11 days on average in 2019. This basically made it quite impossible for Google to get rid of all of them permanently.
Thus, if you happened to have installed any of the below mentioned popular apps from Google’s Play Store then take note of this and uninstall them right away.
• Yoroko Camera
• Solu Camera
• Lite Beauty Camera
• Beauty Collage Lite
• Beauty & Filters Camera
• Photo Collage & Beauty Camera
• Beauty Camera Selfie Filter
• Gaty Beauty Camera
• Panda Selife Beauty Camera
• Catoon Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera
• Benbu Selife Beauty Camera
• Pinut Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
• Mood Photo Editor & Selife Beauty Camera
• Rose Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera
• Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
• Fog Selife Beauty Camera
• First Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
• Vanu Selife Beauty Camera
• Sun Pro Beauty Camera
• Funny Sweet Beauty Camera
• Little Bee Beauty Camera
• Beauty Camera & Photo Editor Pro
• Grass Beauty Camera
• Ele Beauty Camera
• Flower Beauty Camera
• Best Selfie Beauty Camera
• Orange Camera
• Sunny Beauty Camera
• Pro Selfie Beauty Camera
• Selfie Beauty Camera Pro
• Elegant Beauty Cam-2019
There are over 3.4 billion smartphone users worldwide, nearly 71% of them use an Android powered device.
Google And Malicious Apps: A Never-Ending Game Of Cat And Mouse
Currently, the entire process of threat detection and removal of malicious apps and software by Google has become a never-ending chase. As soon as they are able to identify a new form of threat, Google proceeds to remove the particular apps in question and update their detection mechanism. However, by that time the scammers and cybercriminals are already one step ahead as it is highly likely that they have already developed another robust method of avoiding detection and flying past Google’s radar to inject a new type of threat.
Nonetheless, Google is still continually trying to up its game by increasing the speed at which they detect such apps. They are also trying to tighten app security so that Android users are not left vulnerable to most of these attacks out there. Lastly, apart from Google’s efforts, Android users, instead of blindly downloading apps from the Play Store, should themselves be able to take precautions by trying to find out more information about the developers as well. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.