Google, Huawei and Samsung phone users have received a desperate warning about a personal information stealing malware attack and have been told to delete some popular apps that may contain malicious software.
Several popular apps already downloaded and installed on user phones may potentially be hosting money-stealing malware and users are being warned about what this malware can do with personal information and how users can end up losing money.
Tech experts have issued a warning to tablet owners and Android smartphone users of malicious software in several host apps that may already be on their phones. With millions of Android phone users using most of these popular apps there is potential that the bug may steal the personal information of people whose devices have these applications already installed.
Personal information that is at risk of being stolen may include usernames and passwords. Another concern is that with subscription services available on millions of phones, malicious software can steal people’s money. Users are also being advised against downloading these potential malware hosting applications into their devices.
The malware that is causing the scare is the ‘Harly’ named after Harley Quinn a DC comic character because of its likeness to another well-known Android virus, Joker also named after a comic character.
The malware was discovered by Kaspersky, the antivirus provider and since 2020 close to 200 popular apps with the Harly strain malware have been installed in phones worldwide causing a scare of potential loss of information and money for would-be victims.
It’s believed that the Harly malware can sign up Android users to expensive subscription services without phone owners realising it. According to The Daily Express, Harly can steal text message security codes and sign up for subscriptions undetected. These subscriptions can also be verified by the malware through phone calls that the owner will be unaware of and if unnoticed it can drain the person’s bank account.
According to Kaspersky, such dangerous malware ends up in people’s phones by appearing as popular apps on Google Play Store with over 190 Harly infected apps appearing in 2020 alone. “A conservative estimate of the number of downloads of these apps is 4.8 million, but the actual figure may be even higher,” Kaspersky said. Harly Trojans like Jocker Trojans impersonate genuine apps and appear as normal apps so people can easily download them without detecting the danger.
In explaining how scammers can trick people Kaspersky said “the scammers download ordinary apps from Google Play Store, insert malicious code into them, then upload them to Google Play Store under a different name.
The apps may still have the features that are listed in the description, so the users may not even suspect a threat.” If phone users do not pay close attention to the apps, they can easily download and install these applications on their devices activating the malware. Scammers will then be able to steal personal information and even money from users without being noticed.
The company Kaspersky went on to highlight some applications with the Harly strain and then urged Android users to be vigilant of some of these affected apps on the Google Play Store. The problem though is that many of these applications have already been downloaded thousands of times.
Many of the highlighted apps by Kasperky have already been removed from the market but users who had already downloaded and installed the apps on their devices, are being strongly advised to delete the applications to avoid losing money or getting their personal information stolen.
List of infected apps and number of downloads
- Pony Camera – over 500,000 downloads
- Mondy Widgets – over 100,000 downloads
- Eva Launcher – over 100,000 downloads
- Live Wallpaper&Themes Launcher – over 100,000 downloads
- Colour Call – Over 100,000 downloads
- Action Launcher & Wallpapers – over 100,000 downloads
- Pixel Screen Wallpaper – over 100,000 downloads
- Good Launcher – over 100,000 downloads
- Newlook Launcher – over 100,000 downloads
- Funcalls-Voice Changer – over 100,000 downloads
Since malware codes can be easily sneaked into apps and appear harmless, Brits are being warned of the need to stay alert when downloading popular applications. With the potential risk of losing personal information to scammers and the danger of losing money, tablet owners and phone users are also being urged to keep away from applications by unknown developers.
Phone users who had these applications installed have also been encouraged to check if they granted permissions to these applications before they delete them. Since the malware may have created subscriptions, Android phone users who had the highlighted applications have also been advised to check their bank accounts for any transactions that may have occurred but were unapproved by them.
To stay safe from future malicious attacks from apps that end up on Google Play Store, phone users are being encouraged to pay attention to application reviews before they download an application. Other users who may have been victims of a scam or malware attack may share write-up information under the review segment to protect others against potential attacks. Take time to read through the reviews before downloading.
When looking for apps, users are also being encouraged to go with trusted and reputable, well-known and renowned app developers. Invasive malware can steal usernames and passwords and can be used by scammers and using applications by unknown developers or sources can put you at high risk.
Directly installing a strong antivirus on your device to protect against malware and threats can also help but this can only be an effective app if downloaded from a trusted and official app provider. Some anti-virus applications may themselves be malware planted by scammers to steal your personal information and not keep your device safe. Users must be alert before downloading and installing anti-virus software to avoid installing fake anti-virus applications that can cause more harm.