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17 malware-infected apps banned from Google Play Store, delete them right now

The 17 apps that have been pulled out of the app store were all affected with a new variant of the malware called Joker.

These 17 apps are no longer on the Play Store and if you have any of these on your smartphone you need to delete them right now.
These 17 apps are no longer on the Play Store and if you have any of these on your smartphone you need to delete them right now. (Pixabay)

Between July and the second week of September, Google has pulled off 17 apps from the Play Store for being infected with malware. The first lot of 11 apps were banned in July this year followed by six more just a couple of days ago. All of these 17 apps are no longer on the Google Play Store and cannot be downloaded.

The 17 apps that have been pulled out of the app store were all affected with a new variant of the malware called Joker. Researchers from Check Point discovered the 11 apps in July this year that were infected by the malware, Google had been tracking these apps since 2017, according to reports.

After those 11 apps were removed, the notorious Joker malware turned up on the Google Play Store again in six new apps that have now been pulled off too. According to cybersecurity firm Pradeo, these six apps had amassed almost 200,000 downloads before they were pulled off the app store.

Here are the 17 apps that have been banned:

com.imagecompress.androidcom.relax.relaxation.androidsmscom.file.recovefilescom.training.memorygamePush Message- Texting & SMSFingertip GameBox
com.contact.withme.textscom.cheery.message.sendsms (two different instances)com.LPlocker.lockappsSafety AppLockEmoji Wallpaper 
com.hmvoice.friendsmscom.peason.lovinglovemessagecom.remindme.alramConvenient Scanner 2Separate Doc Scanner  

These 17 apps are no longer on the Play Store and if you have any of these on your smartphone you need to delete them right now.

This Joker malware that’s infected these apps is a malicious bot that has been categorised as fleeceware. The main task of this type of malware is to simulate clicks and intercept SMS’ to subscribe to unwanted paid premium services without the users learning about it. Joker uses as little code as possible and thoroughly hides it to generate a very discreet footprint that is tricky to detect.

Google had identified Bread (also known as Joker) which is a large-scale billing fraud family in 2017 that identifies apps that are designed solely for SMS fraud.

Google wrote in a blogpost earlier this year that the Play Store has introduced new policies and have scaled up defenses and Bread apps were forced to continually iterate to search for gaps and have used just about every cloaking and obfuscation technique to try and go undetected.

“Many of these samples appear to be designed specifically to attempt to slip into the Play Store undetected and are not seen elsewhere,” Google wrote.

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