Dozens of ‘beauty camera apps’ found in the Google Play Stores top rankings are stealing user data, according to a recent press release from CyberNews. Some of those may be more malicious than others too, with more than 16 of the 30 listed apps originating out of China or Hong Kong, the company says.
At least one of the apps goes so far as to access camera data without even using permissions to provide users a choice in the matter. Three of the developers examined actually appear to be the same group and are widely believed to have links to a previously spotted Trojan-type malware. That malware was used to display ads, download and install apps, add and remove files with root permissions, and to launch APKs downloaded from a secondary server.
Perhaps worse for some users, at least one app was used to dispense pornographic content. The app was additionally accused of redirected users to phishing sites and collecting their pictures. Yet another was discovered to install malware. Some of the apps in question worryingly had more than 300 million installations. That’s despite violating Google policies, conducting secret data collections, or being outright discovered to be malware.
What exactly are these camera apps stealing?
Although the malware is a big problem in some top-ranking apps, such as those developed by Meitu, a far bigger problem may be in the permissions the apps are requesting. At least one of the apps requests a staggering 40 permissions in total. And those permissions found in the app include access to microphones, the use of GPS and tracking data, and seeing user phone statuses.
Breaking the figures down doesn’t paint a pretty picture either. Only one app requests access to users’ contact lists. Only 13 ask for permission to access high-accuracy GPS based locations while 10 more request access to “coarse location.”
GPS access is particularly concerning since it’s a big source of revenue for the app developers. With 10 million active monthly users, developers can make as much as $80,000 per month. But that’s also one area users have become increasingly concerned about breaches of their data.
With that said, 23 of the apps want access to the microphone despite not requiring it to snap a still photo. 29 apps want access to the camera aside from the one that didn’t even ask and the same number want to be able to read data on the device. In the latter case, that’s despite only really requiring access to write data in order to save photos. That latter permission is one that all 30 apps request.
Here are all of the apps to watch for
There are a total of 30 applications listed by CyberNews in order of ranking, some of which have over 500 million installations as of December last year. Each of those camera apps is reportedly not only unnecessary but harmful in the context of stealing data and data privacy. They are, the company says, either developed by developers with spotty reputations, contain “outright malicious behavior,” or are using “unethical practices.”
Those can be found below and it may be a good idea to uninstall the apps for anybody who happens to be using them.
|App Title||Developer||Installs (as of Dec. 2019)|
|BeautyPlus – Easy Photo Editor & Selfie Camera||Meitu (China) Limited||300,000,000|
|BeautyCam||Meitu (China) Limited||10,000,000|
|Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera||InShot Inc||10,000,000|
|Beauty Camera Plus – Sweet Camera ♥ Makeup|
|Fantastic Photo –|
Beauty Makeup Pro
|Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera & Photo Editor||Sweet Selfie Inc.||500,000|
|Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & Photo Editor||KX Camera Team||10,000,000|
|YouCam Perfect – Best Selfie Camera & Photo|
|Sweet Snap – Beauty Selfie Camera & Face|
|Sweet Chat & Snap|
|Sweet Selfie Snap – Sweet Camera, Beauty Cam|
|Pro Too Movie Apps|
|Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera with Photo|
|Beauty Camera – Best Selfie Camera & Photo|
|KX Camera Team||5,000,000|
|B612 – Beauty & Filter Camera||SNOW, Inc.||500,000,000|
|Face Makeup Camera & Beauty Photo Makeup|
|Sweet Selfie – Selfie Camera & Makeup Photo|
|Sweet Selfie Inc.||100,000,000|
|Selfie camera – Beauty camera & Makeup|
|YouCam Perfect – Best Photo Editor & Selfie|
|Beauty Camera Makeup Face Selfie, Photo|
|Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera||Best App – Top Droid|
|Z Beauty Camera||GOMO||5,000,000|
|HD Camera Selfie Beauty Camera||iJoysoft||5,000,000|
|Candy Camera – selfie, beauty camera, photo|
|JP Brothers, Inc.||100,000,000|
|Makeup Camera-Selfie Beauty Filter Photo Editor||Photo Editor Perfect|
|Beauty Selfie Plus – Sweet Camera Wonder HD|
|Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & AR StickersBestie – Camera360 Beauty Cam||PinGuo Inc.||10,000,000|
|Photo Editor – Beauty Camera||KX Camera Team||100,000|
|Beauty Makeup, Selfie Camera Effects, Photo|
|Selfie cam – bestie makeup beauty camera &|
|Hd wallpapers and|