Get rid of these apps with over 300,000 installs Google just kicked the Play Store for being dangerous

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While Google’s Play Store should be a safe source for app downloads, bad actors are getting smarter every day and finding new ways to get around measures designed to keep them out.
The research team of cloud security company Zscaler ThreatLabz discovered countless apps in the Play Store that were laced with joker, face stealer, and Coper malware families. The Google Android security team removed them, so if you downloaded one on your Android phone, you should remove them immediately.

Joker Android apps removed from Google Play Store

Joker was first discovered in 2019 and we have seen many variants of this spyware that stealthily subscribe people to premium services and steal text messages, contact lists and device information among other things. It continues to make its way to the Play Store by regularly changing its tracking signatures. In the past two months, the following Joker apps have been found in Google’s official app store.

  1. Simple note scanner
  2. Universal PDF Scanner
  3. Private Messenger
  4. Premium SMS
  5. Smart Messaging
  6. Text Emoji SMS
  7. Blood pressure monitor
  8. funny keyboard
  9. Memory Silent Camera
  10. Custom Theme Keyboard
  11. light messages
  12. Photo Keyboard Themes
  13. Send SMS
  14. Themes Chat Messenger
  15. instant messenger
  16. cool keyboard
  17. Fonts Emoji Keyboard
  18. Mini PDF Scanner
  19. Smart text messages
  20. Creative Emoji Keyboard
  21. nice sms
  22. Fonts Emoji Keyboard
  23. Personal message
  24. Funny Emoji Message
  25. Magic Photo Editor
  26. Professional messages
  27. All photo translators
  28. Chat SMS
  29. Smile Emoji
  30. wow translator
  31. Translate all languages
  32. cool messages
  33. Blood Pressure Diary
  34. Chat SMS SMS
  35. hello text sms
  36. Emoji Themed Keyboard
  37. iMessager
  38. SMS text message
  39. Camera translator
  40. come message
  41. painting photo editor
  42. Rich theme message
  43. Quick Talk Message
  44. Advanced SMS
  45. Professional Messenger
  46. Classic Game Messenger
  47. Style Message
  48. Private game messages
  49. Timestamp Camera
  50. social message
All in all, more than 50 Joker downloader apps have been found in the Play Store by ThreatLabz so far with a combined number of downloads exceeding 300,000. They usually fall into the categories of Communication, Health, Personalization, Photography, and Resources.

The attack mode is that many apps are released together and hide a malicious payload in them. The Joker malware often hides in messaging apps that require you to grant elevated permissions. It then uses that permission to realize its motives. For example, in the Enjoy SMS app, the payload is hidden in an obfuscated path.

Facestealer malware

Facestealer malware is used to steal Facebook credentials using fake login screens. One of the apps ThreatLabz came across was cam.vanilla.snapp and it has been downloaded more than 5,000 times.

coper trojan

This banking Trojan uses a multi-stage infection chain to compromise Android smartphones and perform malicious activities. It focuses on banking apps in Europe, Australia and South America. They are disguised as legitimate apps and once a user downloads them from the Google Play Store, they unleash the malware infection capable of intercepting and sending text messages, keylogging, locking and unlocking screens, preventing deletion and to give malicious persons control over infected phones. This ultimately leads to the perpetrators gaining access to the information they need to rob victims of their money.

For example, an app called Unicc QR Scanner prompts users to update the app once installed. After that, a backdoor or malware is installed on the device to help the attacker take full control of the phone.

Such apps continue to appear in the Play Store and even Apple’s app store, so it’s best to be vigilant and only install apps that come from trusted developers and are downloaded frequently. To be on the safe side, you should also go through the reviews about the apps.
It is recommended not to install messaging apps. You should also avoid granting a notification listener and increased accessibility permissions to apps that look shady.

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