Malware-infected apps keep making their way to the Google Play Store


Judging by recent headlines, the Google Play Store seems to be becoming an increasingly common source of malware-infected apps. The precise reasons for this aren't clear, but it's most probably a combination of Google's inability to keep up with hackers' latest tactics, as well as security researchers' relatively recent mainstream interest into the Android OS. But whatever the reason, the facts are that we're constantly hearing of yet another Play Store purge of apps that have amassed thousands of downloads, putting their users to risk.

Last year, a Pokemon GO guide app, which managed to amass more than 500,000 downloads, was taken down after being uncovered as a vector for malware infection, enabling hackers to root devices and shower users with ads. More than 100 apps using the same code base (named Ztorg) have been uncovered since then, though the latest pair of malicious apps removed from the Play Store are a bit of an outlier.

"Magic Browser" and "Noise Detector," which combined had more than 60,000 downloads, actually didn't possess the ability to root a user's device. Instead, they took control of sending and receiving SMS, which in practical terms means they had the ability to sneakily send text messages to premium numbers. The good news, however, is that both of them were likely used for testing purposes only: both didn't actually possess the bulk of the Ztorg code, which the Kaspersky researcher who detected them theorizes was being slowly added via app updates so as to avoid detection.


And it seems precisely this tactic – updating an app with malware instead of directly shipping it – is gaining steam lately. The last app removal from this month was of a game called "colourblock," which, too, used exploits to root users' devices. So given the recent uptick in similar attacks, it's fair to say Google's Play Protect, which scans all apps submitted to the Google Play storefront, needs to step up its game a bit.

Seeing as the two removed apps were likely used for testing, it should be expected for us to be seeing more of this type of malware in the future. So everyone out there should make sure not to go download-crazy, even with apps that may seem relatively popular.

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34 Comments

1. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

But but the Play Store is supposed to be safe from malware.

6. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You're the only one saying that LOL Funny how you bash anything Google related then claim to have a Nexus 6P.

19. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Am I? Where there's smoke, there's fire.

27. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You repeatedly claimed in your Mxy account that you own a Nexus 6P. Nice try, liar.

11. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

What do you expect from these Android fanboys? They're always in denial and say Android is safe which its not. This is one of the reasons I would never use an Android smartphone again. Android security is just plain terrible. Not just the malware issue itself, but also because Google patches vulnerabilities in Android far slower than Apple does with iOS. There's also the fragmentation issue leaving so many devices always at security risk. And of course Google's approve all policy that requires someone to be infected by malware before Google removes it in which makes the Google Play Store about as bad as downloading apps from unknown sources. And the fact newer flagship Android devices freeze and crash more than newer iDevices. In the end there is nothing to truly justify paying iPhone prices for Android

15. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"And the fact newer flagship Android devices freeze and crash more than newer iDevices" When you get your head outta your a**, have a look at this data from 2017. http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2017/02/data-shows-androids-are-far-more-reliable-than-iphones/ "In the end there is nothing to truly justify paying iPhone prices for Android." Freedom to customize my device to my preference, from the UI to it's fearureset and behavior. Both Android and iOS have their pros and cons. I can definitely justify paying iPhone prices for Android flagships like the Galaxy S8. Ever wondered why the iPhone almost never recieves awards for being the best smartphone of the year? Meanwhile Samsung wins them almost every year... and multiple awards a year, for that matter.

23. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Look at fat perkins. No one has ever denied anything.

26. therealestmc

Posts: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

I can't use my android browser to watch animals in the web without my phone completely bogged down with pop-ups. It's doesn't happen on iOS as much.

2. fyah_king unregistered

And My phones has never been infected.

3. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

The only malware I ever experience on Window or Android was on my 2005 dell Windows XP desktop. Never had an issue since then until... Phonearena. This has to be the worst optimized, bloated, spam rich site on the net.

4. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

Dear Phonearena fix YOUR site!!!!!!!!!!!! LOl, hey look at Gtmetrix is a worlds largest site that test website performance and what you need to fix. https://gtmetrix.com/reports/www.phonearena.com/c3T0P1ap

7. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Those are some abysmal scores right there. PA pls.

8. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

The page speed was the worst I've ever seen and I've been doing this for years! A 9% PA?

17. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

9% ?? Slow as f**k. Damn. PA gotta do something about that, seriously.

22. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

btw, did they finally fix this comment section? edit, oh no they didn't.. this reply still far under #7

21. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

meanwhile my uBlock origin say 41 ads blocked in this page... adblock is a most when visiting this site

31. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 2013

Right? I have Ad Block Pro and its saying 83 ads blocked on this page and over 12k blocked since i installed it, most of which are from this website. The site does work a lot better for me since installing it. I understand having some ads to bring you in money to keep the site going, but its ridiculous on here the amount of ads.

32. fyah_king unregistered

Android authority site is just as bad. The ads are all around you .lol

5. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Good grief.

9. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

This is why I find it funny that fanboys still wanna tout Android as superior to iOS. More malware is not better than less malware. Less security is not better than more security. More fragmentation isn't better than less fragmentation. Less updates isn't better than more updates.

12. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

As much as I hate those blind-@ss fandroids, I don't see you any different, you're just like them, only on a different side.

13. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

You don't hate those blind fanboys because you're Android fanboy yourself. Just pretending to be unbiased but its easy to see through you.

14. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Oh look, another one of those "you're an android fanboy because you're arguing with an apple fanboy like me". You fanboys are funny, just recently I was called an Apple fanboy for praising the new iPad Pros, now this? So much for your "easy to see through" LOLOLOLOL

16. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Pot calling the kettle black

20. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

+1 Matt. Dude is clearly putting on a facade that isn't fooling anyone.

28. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Read comment #14. If you still don't get it, then your brain surely can't comprehend the fact that people can be non blind-@ss fanboys like you.

33. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Aka, I'm btching because I've been exposed as a liar.

34. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Yes of course you're a liar, no need to announce it Mxy, we already know

24. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Shut your fat, ugly, cocaine abusing, peanut butter and jelly sandwich eating, ass up. You're a troll. Please do something about your face, its more annoying than your trolling B.S.

25. apple-rulz

Posts: 1944; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Watch your mouth punk and get back to tending to your mail order bride and that $25k Porsche you bought used and can't afford to have repaired.

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