12 malicious apps, 6 on Google Play Store, found spreading malware; Know how to protect yourself | How-to

12 malicious apps, 6 on Google Play Store, found spreading malware; Know how to protect yourself

A recent report has found 12 malicious apps, with 6 on the Google Play Store that are spreading malware. Know how to protect yourself from such threats.

| Updated on: Feb 02 2024, 18:52 IST
Google Play Store
Beware of malware-spreading apps. Check signs to watch out for. (Pixabay)

Google Play Store offers millions of apps for Android users for any and all tasks. However, cybercriminals see this as a lucrative opportunity to target innocent users to steal their data and even dupe them of their money through malware that is secretly embedded in these apps. To screen these apps, Google has a program in place called Play Protect. However, some of the apps manage to slip through the tight security net, potentially resulting in disastrous consequences for users. A recent report has found 12 malicious apps, with 6 on the Google Play Store that are spreading malware.

Malicious apps

According to a BleepingComputer report, researchers from cybersecurity company ESET have highlighted 12 malicious apps that contain a remote access trojan (RAT) called VajraSpy. This malware is uniquely used by the Patchwork APT group for espionage.

While 6 of these apps were officially available to download on the Google Play Store, the other 6 could be accessed via third-party app stores. 11 of these apps were advertised as messaging apps, while one was disguised as a news portal. The report states this malware was specially used to target users in Pakistan. 

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Once downloaded, these apps spread a malware called VajraSpy on the smartphone, which is capable of extracting data including contacts, messages, files, device location and even a list of installed apps.

List of apps spreading malware:

  1. Rafaqat
  2. Privee Talk
  3. MeetMe
  4. Let's Chat
  5. Quick Chat
  6. Chit Chat
  7. Hello Chat
  8. YohooTalk
  9. TikTalk
  10. Nidus
  11. GlowChat
  12. Wave Chat

Although most of these apps have been removed from the Google Play Store, users are advised to immediately delete them if they have them installed on their smartphones to avoid any data theft.

Signs to watch out for while installing apps

1. See the app permissions - With the new Android updates, whenever you download any app, it asks you for various permissions depending on its purpose. However, you should always keep an eye out for any app asking for unusual permissions such as access to your personal information, contacts and more.

2. Check the reviews - Always check the app reviews before downloading it. People post app reviews based on their user experience. 

3. See the number of downloads - Any potentially harmful app might have only a handful of downloads. So, only download apps that have already been downloaded a respectable number of times. 

4. Read the app description - Google Play Store provides an app description along with information about the app creator. You can click on the developer's name to see a list of other apps they have developed. Therefore, only install apps from trustworthy sources. 

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First Published Date: 02 Feb, 18:52 IST