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Malicious Android Apps Secretly Tracking User Data

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Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity researchers recently discovered a series of malicious Android apps that not only secretly track and send user data, but also repeatedly display ads on user’s phones.

The 36 apps found on Google Play were masquerading as mobile security tools and had catchy names like Security Defender and Smart Security. They claimed to perform a wide variety of useful tasks in addition to managing security on your device. While the apps are able to perform some of the simpler functions advertised, they are also collecting and tracking a variety of user data, including location, installed app information and even attachments.

These apps are able to operate because their actions remain relatively hidden on devices. The apps do not create shortcuts on users’ screens nor do they appear in the launcher’s application list. This hidden nature is not present on certain devices, however, which is how the researchers believe the apps avoided being detected as malware by Google Play.

The apps also send fake security notifications to users to make it appear that as if they are actually performing security tasks. Various actions – such as downloading a new app – generate messages to the user that prompt a response. These alerts and the user response actions are what triggers the user data being sent to a remote server.

As soon as they were discovered, the researchers notified Google and the apps were removed from the store. See below for a list of the identified apps.

  • Avast Security
  • Powerful Antivirus
  • Security Antivirus
  • Deep Cleaner
  • Easy Cleaner
  • Fast Cleaner
  • Guardian Antivirus
  • Guardian Security
  • Max Cleaner
  • Max Antivirus
  • Max Security
  • Power Cleaner
  • Power Antivirus
  • Powerful Security
  • Security Guardian
  • Smart Cleaner
  • Smart Antivirus
  • Space Cleaner
  • Super Cleaner
  • Super Antivirus
  • Sweet Clean
  • Antivirus Security
  • Security
  • Security Defender
  • Super Security
  • Security Keeper
  • Smart Security
  • Flash Keyboard Lite
  • Expedite
  • Mobile Guardian
  • Mobile Kavass
  • Patronum
  • Supo Security
  • SUPO Security
  • Boost Now
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