Gadgets Now has now released a list of nearly 150 malware applications that users really shouldn’t have installed on any Android device but which can be found on the Play Store. In general, these are apps that are actively spying on users, installing secondary pieces of software that are difficult to remove, or are otherwise harmful to a device’s health. Interestingly, there are several trends those tend to follow in terms of the types of apps likely to be affected. Moreover, there seems to be another trend in terms of apps that hide themselves or the secondary apps they install in the background.
Although there are entirely too many applications in the full list to write out here, quite a lot of those appear to be designated as anti-virus or virus removal tools. That’s actually not unusual, as it’s a common tactic to use those as a disguise for nearly every operating platform. Cache cleaners and similar maintenance tools can be included in that group, so users should be careful to only use software from well-known, trusted developers such as Avast, AVG, Malwarebytes, or Piriform. Some of those recently discovered include “Virus Cleaner Antivirus 2017 – Clean Virus Booster,” “Super Antivirus & Virus Cleaner (Applock, Cleaner),” and “Max Security – Antivirus&Booster &Cleaner.” Meanwhile, the games on the list are a bit more obvious thanks to their titles. Most of the titles appear to start with the word “Game” and examples include “Game Billiards” or “Game protectors home.” Although some are far less conspicuous than that, the artwork used is also somewhat amateurish, which can be a dead giveaway. Finally, mixed in with several WWE apps, utilities, and at least one wallpaper app, QR code scanners feature prominently in the list. That includes apps less suspiciously titled “QR & Barcode Scanner” or “QR Code Scanner Pro.”
It goes without saying that Google has taken great strides to ensure that malicious software doesn’t find its way onto the Google Play Store. However, some do manage to get through the screen and, subsequently, onto Android devices. So it’s important for users to watch out for applications that have awkward titles or which make claims that seem too good to be true. The number of installs and reviews on an app aren’t always a good indicator either, as some of the apps on this new list. So it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research on apps that users don’t recognize and to watch for unusual behavior or performance drops on any given smartphone. In every case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.