Although spring is obviously not here yet, the time to do a little (digital) cleaning may have already arrived, at least for Android users with a habit of installing many different apps across all kinds of categories on their mobile devices, often sans researching their real-life utility and reliability very thoroughly.
Yes, ladies and gents, the latest collection of apps deemed malicious by a well-known group of cybersecurity experts has been made public earlier this week, including a staggering 164 (!!!) titles that you need to identify and get rid of as soon as possible.
For its part, Google
seems to have actually done its job for a change, booting each and every app labeled as mischievous by the White Ops Satori Threat Intelligence and Research Team
in its newest comprehensive report off the official Play Store prior to the release of said report. That means the "CopyCatz" gang should pose no danger whatsoever to new users, but at the same time, those who contributed to these apps amassing a combined 10+ million downloads can't afford to relax just yet.
How worried should you be?
As always, if you're careful about your pre-installation vetting process for all apps downloaded from Google Play, you're unlikely to have fallen victim to this rather simple and straightforward cyber-attack.
This is just an example of an obvious malicious clone of a legit popular Android app
As the unnecessarily catchy "CopyCatz" moniker suggests, these apps carry (or rather used to carry) extremely similar names and descriptions to various popular Android tools, services, and games, fooling users into thinking they would deliver goods like privacy protection, advanced photo editing capabilities, battery enhancing functionality, call recording, or ironically, antivirus features when in fact their only goal was to push unauthorized, out-of-context ads.
While that's definitely not as bad as trying to outright steal your hard-earned money
and there's no evidence the unsolicited ads could get so intrusive as to render your phone unusable
, it can obviously become very annoying very fast to have to close an app that displays ad after ad instead of fulfilling its promised tasks.
In short, you're probably in no real danger of having your personal info stolen or anything like that if you decide to ignore today's recommendation and keep any of the apps listed below on your phone. But if you hate ads as much as the next guy, you should absolutely delete these apps ASAP and be careful to download the legit Assistive Touch, AppLock, and Photo Editor Pro titles next time instead of their cheap, malicious clones.
Delete, delete, delete
Without further ado, here is the full and frankly astonishing list of titles you need to uninstall if you want to get rid of pesky ads and possibly speed up your phone in the process. These are ordered alphabetically, with duplicates eliminated and a few missing names you could be able to identify by visiting the White Ops website
and examining the app IDs at the end.