There has always been some apprehension on the safety of apps on the Android Play Store. Google follows a very open policy with developers who place their apps on the Play Store, which is quite different from what Apple does. It is much more difficult to get a placement in the App Store on Apple devices than it is on Googleâ€™s Play Store.
Now a researcher has come up with hard evidence of at least 13 apps, which masquerade as gaming apps and in reality, contain malware. Google has immediately arranged to have these 13 apps removed from the Play Store. But the unfortunate part is these apps have already been downloaded 560,000 or over half a million times. And a couple of these apps were even part of the list of â€˜trendingâ€™ apps on the Play Store.
The apps, when downloaded, do not seem to have any functionality and simply crash. They have been designed as imitations of genuine games. The researcher who exposed this is one Lukas Stefanko of the cybersecurity firm ESET and he has posted a tweet with the details and even a video demo on how these apps would behave on your mobile. Such researchers, when they stumble across anything serious, first inform the company responsible for the lacunae and leave them adequate time to set the wrong right. Its only when the company fails to take action, they share the details in public.
Don't install these apps from Google Play - it's malware.
-all together 560,000+ installs
-after launch, hide itself icon
-downloads additional APK and makes user install it (unavailable now)
-2 apps are #Trending
-no legitimate functionality
-reported pic.twitter.com/1WDqrCPWFoLukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) November 19, 2018
As can been seen in this case, Google was the first to be told about these apps and the company has promptly removed the offending apps out of the Play Store. The next thing to be taken care of is how these half a million device owners can clean up their phones. The 13 apps had similar sounding titles like truck simulator luxury car driving simulator. This is not the first time Google has had to encounter situations where apps on the Play Store have been found to be harmful.