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Google Removes Several Apps From Play Store Distributing Malware

The malware lured victims to sign up for premium service subscriptions.

 

Earlier this week, Google blocked dozens of malicious Android apps from the official Play Store that were propagating Joker, Facestealer, and Coper malware families via the virtual marketplace. 

According to the findings from Zscaler ThreatLabz and Pradeo researchers, the Joker spyware exfiltrated SMS messages, contact lists, and device information and lured victims to sign up for premium service subscriptions. 

A total of 54 Joker downloader apps were unearthed by the two cybersecurity firms, with the apps installed cumulatively over 330,000 times. Nearly half of the apps belonged to communication (47.1%) category followed by tools (39.2%), personalization (5.9%), health and, photography. 

“The tools and communication were among the most targeted categories covering the majority of the Joker-infected apps. ThreatLabz discovered daily uploads of apps containing the Joker malware indicating the high activity level and persistence of the adversary group.” reads the blog post published by Zscaler. “Consistent with previous findings, ThreatLabz's latest discoveries belonging to the Joker malware campaign continue to follow similar developer naming patterns and use of familiar techniques.” 

ThreatLabz experts also uncovered multiple apps compromised with the Facestealer and Coper malware. 

The Facestealer spyware was first unearthed in July last year by Dr. Web researchers, and was designed to steal Facebook users’ logins and passwords and authentication tokens. 

The Coper malware is a banking trojan that targets banking applications in Europe, Australia, and South America. The hackers distribute the apps by disguising them as legitimate apps in the Google Play Store. 

“Once downloaded, this app unleashes the Coper malware infection which is capable of intercepting and sending SMS text messages, making USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) requests to send messages, keylogging, locking/unlocking the device screen, performing overly attacks, preventing uninstalls and generally allowing attackers to take control and execute commands on infected device via remote connection with a C2 server.” continues the report. 

The researchers recommended users to refrain from granting unnecessary permissions to apps and verify their authenticity by checking for developer information, reading reviews, and scrutinizing their privacy policies. If you become a victim of a malicious app from the Play Store, inform Google about it immediately through the support options in your play Store app.
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