Beware of dangerous malware posing as harmless Android apps

The Google Play Store continues to be the target of malware attacks. Several applications posing as useful tools have infected more than 300,000 Android devices, giving hackers access to vital personal information.

Much like the recent Joker malware, these apps seem to be genuinely useful at first glance. Fitness trackers, QR code scanners, and cryptocurrency trackers are tools that many of us will have downloaded in the past without giving it much thought. They even work as advertised, so users are unlikely to suspect malicious intent.

However, over time, these apps can be used to access huge amounts of personal data from the target device. This includes official documentation and banking information, which means that these apps can even be used to steal money from the unsuspecting user.

As cybersecurity firm ThreatFabric reports, Google has cracked down on the use of permissions to access Android devices in recent weeks. But hackers quickly adapted by making their malware more sophisticated. Instead of containing a large amount of malicious code that can be detected immediately, the malicious application gradually introduces it by asking for more and more permissions over time. Ultimately, this can provide the app with almost total control over your device.

How to protect yourself from Android malware

This malware attack serves as a final reminder of the dangers of apps downloaded from the Play Store. While this is still the safest place to download Android apps, some are malicious and can cause significant damage to your device.

However, there are several steps you can take to avoid unintentionally installing malware on your device. The first is to check the reviews in the Play Store itself. A low rating or many negative reviews are a red flag, as are almost exclusively positive reviews with reviews that seem generic or robotic. Apps with more downloads are generally more reliable, but that’s not always the case. Likewise, an app without reviews is not necessarily malicious.

It’s also worth sticking with well-known apps from established developers, whenever possible. If the name of the provider doesn’t ring a bell, search for it online before downloading it. For anything that has already been downloaded, go to settings and regularly review the permissions you grant to specific apps.

This last tip is probably the most important. Make sure you download effective antivirus software, which can scan every new downloaded app and continuously monitor it for any suspicious activity. There are a lot of free options out there, but some of the best antivirus software can be installed on all of your devices.

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