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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Google Play Store

4 Major Privacy and Security Updates From Google You Should Know About

4 Major Privacy and Security Updates From Google You Should Know About
May 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google has announced a number of user-facing and under-the-hood changes in an attempt to boost privacy and security, including rolling out two-factor authentication automatically to all eligible users and bringing iOS-styled privacy labels to Android app listings. "Today we ask people who have enrolled in  two-step verification  (2SV) to confirm it's really them with a simple tap via a Google prompt on their phone whenever they sign in," the company  said . "Soon we'll start automatically enrolling users in 2SV if their accounts are appropriately configured." Google Play To Get Apple-Like Privacy Labels The Google Play Store for Android is also getting a huge overhaul on the privacy front. The search giant said it plans to include a new  safety section  for app listings that highlights the type of data being collected and stored — such as approximate or precise location, contacts, personal information, photos and videos, and audio files — and how the dat

BRATA Malware Poses as Android Security Scanners on Google Play Store

BRATA Malware Poses as Android Security Scanners on Google Play Store
April 12, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A new set of malicious Android apps have been caught posing as app security scanners on the official Play Store to distribute a backdoor capable of gathering sensitive information. "These malicious apps urge users to update Chrome, WhatsApp, or a PDF reader, yet instead of updating the app in question, they take full control of the device by abusing accessibility services," cybersecurity firm McAfee  said  in an analysis published on Monday. The apps in question were designed to target users in Brazil, Spain, and the U.S., with most of them accruing anywhere between 1,000 to 5,000 installs. Another app named DefenseScreen racked up 10,000 installs before it was removed from the Play Store last year. First documented by Kaspersky in August 2019,  BRATA  (short for "Brazilian Remote Access Tool Android") emerged as an Android malware with screen recording abilities before steadily morphing into a banking trojan. "It combines full device control capabilitie

Hackers Tampered With APKPure Store to Distribute Malware Apps

Hackers Tampered With APKPure Store to Distribute Malware Apps
April 09, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
APKPure, one of the largest alternative app stores outside of the Google Play Store, was infected with malware this week, allowing threat actors to distribute Trojans to Android devices. In a supply-chain attack similar to that of German telecommunications  equipment manufacturer Gigaset , the APKPure client version 3.17.18 is said to have been tampered with in an attempt to trick unsuspecting users into downloading and installing malicious applications linked to the malicious code built into the APKpure app. The development was reported by researchers from  Doctor Web  and  Kaspersky . "This trojan belongs to the dangerous Android.Triada malware family capable of downloading, installing and uninstalling software without users' permission," Doctor Web researchers said. According to Kaspersky, the APKPure version 3.17.18 was tweaked to incorporate an advertisement SDK that acts as a Trojan dropper designed to deliver other malware to a victim's device. "This

9 Android Apps On Google Play Caught Distributing AlienBot Banker and MRAT Malware

9 Android Apps On Google Play Caught Distributing AlienBot Banker and MRAT Malware
March 09, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new malware dropper contained in as many as 9 Android apps distributed via Google Play Store that deploys a second stage malware capable of gaining intrusive access to the financial accounts of victims as well as full control of their devices. "This dropper, dubbed Clast82, utilizes a series of techniques to avoid detection by Google Play Protect detection, completes the evaluation period successfully, and changes the payload dropped from a non-malicious payload to the AlienBot Banker and MRAT," Check Point researchers Aviran Hazum, Bohdan Melnykov, and Israel Wernik said in a write-up published today. The apps that were used for the campaign include Cake VPN, Pacific VPN, eVPN, BeatPlayer, QR/Barcode Scanner MAX, Music Player, tooltipnatorlibrary, and QRecorder. After the findings were reported to Google on January 28, the rogue apps were removed from the Play Store on February 9.  Malware authors have resorted to a variety o

Joker Malware Apps Once Again Bypass Google's Security to Spread via Play Store

Joker Malware Apps Once Again Bypass Google's Security to Spread via Play Store
July 09, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers took the wraps off yet another instance of Android malware hidden under the guise of legitimate applications to stealthily subscribe unsuspecting users for premium services without their knowledge. In a report published by Check Point research today, the malware — infamously called Joker (or Bread) — has found another trick to bypass Google's Play Store protections: obfuscate the malicious DEX executable inside the application as Base64 encoded strings, which are then decoded and loaded on the compromised device. Following responsible disclosure by Check Point researchers, the 11 apps ( list and hashes here ) in question were removed by Google from the Play Store on April 30, 2020. "The Joker malware is tricky to detect, despite Google's investment in adding Play Store protections," said Check Point 's Aviran Hazum, who identified the new modus operandi of Joker malware. "Although Google removed the malicious apps from the P

Google Bans 600 Android Apps from Play Store for Serving Disruptive Ads

Google Bans 600 Android Apps from Play Store for Serving Disruptive Ads
February 21, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Google has banned nearly 600 Android apps from the Play Store for bombarding users with disruptive ads and violating its advertising guidelines. The company categorizes disruptive ads as "ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions," such as a full-screen ad served when attempting to make a phone call. Although Google didn't name the specific apps in question, many of the apps — which had been installed more than 4.5 billion times — primarily targeted English-speaking users and were mainly from developers based in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India, according to Buzzfeed News. Highlighting that malicious developers are getting "more savvy in deploying and masking disruptive ads," the company said it has developed new counter mechanisms to detect such behavior. Trouble in Google Play Store This is not the first time adware apps have been removed from the Google P

WARNING — Malware Found in CamScanner Android App With 100+ Million Users

WARNING — Malware Found in CamScanner Android App With 100+ Million Users
August 27, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Beware! Attackers can remotely hijack your Android device and steal data stored on it, if you are using free version of  CamScanner , a highly-popular Phone PDF creator app with more than 100 million downloads on Google Play Store. So, to be safe, just uninstall the CamScanner app from your Android device now, as Google has already removed the app from its official Play Store. Unfortunately, CamScanner has recently gone rogue as researchers found a hidden Trojan Dropper module within the app that could allow remote attackers to secretly download and install malicious program on users' Android devices without their knowledge. However, the malicious module doesn't actually reside in the code of CamScanner Android app itself; instead, it is part of a 3rd-party advertising library that recently was introduced in the PDF creator app. Discovered by Kaspersky security researchers, the issue came to light after many CamScanner users spotted suspicious behavior and posted neg

New Malware Replaced Legit Android Apps With Fake Ones On 25 Million Devices

New Malware Replaced Legit Android Apps With Fake Ones On 25 Million Devices
July 11, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Are you sure the WhatsApp app you are using on your Android device is legitimate, even if it's working perfectly as intended? ...Or the JioTV, AppLock, HotStar, Flipkart, Opera Mini or Truecaller app—if you have installed any of these? I'm asking this because cybersecurity researchers just yesterday revealed eye-opening details about a widespread Android malware campaign wherein attackers silently replaced installed legitimate apps with their malicious versions on nearly 25 million mobile phones. Now the important question here is how they're doing it and why? According to researchers at Check Point, attackers are distributing a new kind of Android malware that disguises itself as innocent-looking photo editing, adult entertainment, or gaming apps and available through widely used third-party app stores. Dubbed Agent Smith , the malware takes advantage of multiple Android vulnerabilities, such as the  Janus flaw and the Man-in-the-Disk flaw , and injects malic

Tor Browser for Android — First Official App Released On Play Store

Tor Browser for Android — First Official App Released On Play Store
May 23, 2019Wang Wei
Wohooo! Great news for privacy-focused users. Tor Browser, the most popular privacy-focused browser, for Android is finally out of beta, and the first stable version has now arrived on Google Play Store for anyone to download. The Tor Project announced Tuesday the first official stable release of its ultra-secure internet browser for Android devices, Tor Browser 8.5 —which you can now download for FREE on your mobile devices from Google Play Store. Tor Browser is mostly used by privacy-focused people, activists, journalists, and even cyber criminal gangs to avoid government monitoring. It allows users to browse the Internet anonymously, by hiding their IP addresses and identity, through a network of encrypted servers that bounce their web requests around multiple intermediate links. Access to Tor anonymity network was previously available on Android mobile operating system only through other apps or browsers like Orbot / Orfox app, but you can now use the official Tor Brow

New Android Malware Apps Use Motion Sensor to Evade Detection

New Android Malware Apps Use Motion Sensor to Evade Detection
January 18, 2019Mohit Kumar
Even after so many efforts by Google for preventing its Play Store from malware, shady apps somehow managed to fool its anti-malware protections and get into its service to infect Android users with malware. Two such Android apps have recently been spotted on the Google Play Store by security researchers with the Trend Micro malware research team, infecting thousands of Android users who have already downloaded them with banking malware. The apps in question masquerade as a currency exchange app called Currency Converter and battery saver app called BatterySaverMobi , and are using motion-sensor inputs of infected Android devices to monitor them before installing a dangerous banking Trojan called Anubis. The malicious Android apps, with a large number of fake five-star reviews, use this clever trick instead of traditional evasion techniques in order to avoid detection when researchers run emulators (which are less likely to use sensors) to detect such malicious apps. &quo

Google Removes 85 Adware Apps That Infect 9 Million Android Users

Google Removes 85 Adware Apps That Infect 9 Million Android Users
January 09, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Google has removed 85 apps from its Play Store after finding out that they were pushing aggressive, full-screen adware to Android users. With the rise in the mobile market, Adware has become one of the most prevalent mobile threats in the world. Adware has traditionally been used to aggressively push ads like banners or pop-ups on mobile screens to make money for its makers. The now-removed 85 apps in question disguised as games, streaming TV, and remote control simulator apps in the Google Play store and had collectively been installed by nine million users all over the world. Researchers from cyber security company Trend Micro spotted these apps which has the ability to bombard user devices with full-screen advertisements at regular intervals or when users unlock their device by monitoring their screen unlocking functionality. The apps can display ads even when you are not browsing the internet, hide themselves and run in the background on infected devices. The most popul

Google Will Charge Android Phone Makers to Use Its Apps In Europe

Google Will Charge Android Phone Makers to Use Its Apps In Europe
October 17, 2018Mohit Kumar
Would you prefer purchasing an Android device that doesn't have any apps or services from Google? No Google Maps, No Gmail, No YouTube! And NOT even the Google Play Store—from where you could have installed any Android apps you want Because if you live in Europe, from now on, you have to spend some extra cash on a smartphone with built-in Google services, which were otherwise until now freely available and already included in the cost of your smartphone. For the very first time, Google has announced its plans to charge a fee to European Android phone manufacturers who want to include a free version of Google apps on their Android handsets. In short, Android phone makers will now have to pay Google for installing the Play store, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, and Chrome, that are usually considered to be core parts of the Android operating system, but are actually Google services. "Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us

Fortnite APK Download for Android Won't Be Available on Google Play Store

Fortnite APK Download for Android Won't Be Available on Google Play Store
August 06, 2018Swati Khandelwal
There's both good news and bad news for Fortnite game lovers. Fortnite, one of the most popular games in the world right now, is coming to Android devices very soon, but players would not be able to download Fortnite APK from the Google Play Store. Instead, Epic Games software development company has confirmed the Fortnite APK for Android will be available for download exclusively only through its official website, bypassing the Google Play Store. Why Fortnite for Android Bypassing Google Play Store? Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney cites two main reasons for this decision. First, offering Fortnite APK downloads directly from its official website will allow the company to "have a direct relationship" with its consumers. Second, since Google takes a 30 percent cut of revenue each time a user makes an in-app purchase through its Play Store, the decision will allow the company to save millions. This should not be shocking as Fortnite on iOS made $15 million in j

Google Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Android Apps From the Play Store

Google Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Android Apps From the Play Store
July 27, 2018Mohit Kumar
Following Apple's lead in banning cryptocurrency mining apps , Google has also updated its Play Store policy this week to ban apps that mine cryptocurrencies on users' devices in the background. However, there are countless cryptocurrency mining apps, including MinerGate, AA Miner, NeoNeonMiner, and Crypto Miner, still available on the Play Store. Cryptocurrency mining is not a new concept, but the technology has recently been abused in the past year after hackers found it a great way to make millions of dollars by hijacking PCs to secretly mine cryptocurrency in the background without their users' knowledge or consent. Due to this practice, cryptocurrency mining has emerged as one of the biggest threats , raising negative sentiments towards this alternative revenue scheme, and big tech giants like Apple and Google took strict measures to put restrictions on such apps. Over a month ago, Apple updated its App Store guidelines to ban cryptocurrency mining apps and

Google Solves Update Issue for Android Apps Installed from Unknown Sources

Google Solves Update Issue for Android Apps Installed from Unknown Sources
June 21, 2018Swati Khandelwal
If you are wondering how to receive latest updates for an Android app—installed via a 3rd party source or peer-to-peer app sharing—directly from Google Play Store. For security reasons, until now apps installed from third-party sources cannot be updated automatically over-the-air, as Google does not recognize them as Play Store apps and they do not show up in your Google account app list as well. Late last year, Google announced its plan to set up an automated mechanism to verify the authenticity of an app by adding a small amount of security metadata on top of each Android application package (in the APK Signing Block) distributed by its Play Store. This metadata is like a digital signature that would help your Android device to verify if the origin of an app you have installed from a third-party source is a Play Store app and have not been tempered, for example, a virus is not attached to it. From early 2018, Google has already started implementing this mechanism, which doesn

Password Stealing Apps With Over A Million Downloads Found On Google Play Store

Password Stealing Apps With Over A Million Downloads Found On Google Play Store
December 13, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Even after so many efforts by Google like launching bug bounty program and preventing apps from using Android accessibility services , malicious applications somehow manage to get into Play Store and infect people with malicious software. The same happened once again when security researchers discovered at least 85 applications in Google Play Store that were designed to steal credentials from users of Russian-based social network VK.com and were successfully downloaded millions of times. The most popular of all masqueraded as a gaming app with more than a million downloads. When this app was initially submitted in March 2017, it was just a gaming app without any malicious code, according to a blog post published Tuesday by Kaspersky Lab. However, after waiting for more than seven months, the malicious actors behind the app updated it with information-stealing capabilities in October 2017. Besides this gaming app, the Kaspersky researchers found 84 such apps on Google Play

BankBot Returns On Play Store – A Never Ending Android Malware Story

BankBot Returns On Play Store – A Never Ending Android Malware Story
November 20, 2017Mohit Kumar
Even after so many efforts by Google for making its Play Store away from malware, shady apps somehow managed to fool its anti-malware protections and infect people with malicious software. A team of researchers from several security firms has uncovered two new malware campaigns targeting Google Play Store users, of which one spreads a new version of BankBot , a persistent family of banking Trojan that imitates real banking applications in efforts to steal users' login details. BankBot has been designed to display fake overlays on legitimate bank apps from major banks around the world, including Citibank, WellsFargo, Chase, and DiBa, to steal sensitive information, including logins and credit card details. With its primary purpose of displaying fake overlays, BankBot has the ability to perform a broad range of tasks, such as sending and intercepting SMS messages, making calls, tracking infected devices, and stealing contacts. Google removed at least four previous versions

Google Begins Removing Play Store Apps Misusing Android Accessibility Services

Google Begins Removing Play Store Apps Misusing Android Accessibility Services
November 14, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Due to rise in malware and adware abusing Android accessibility services, Google has finally decided to take strict steps against the apps on its app platform that misuse this feature. Google has emailed Android app developers informing them that within 30 days, they must show how accessibility code used in their apps is helping disabled users or their apps will be removed from its Play Store entirely. For those who are unaware, Android's accessibility services are meant to help disabled people interact with their smartphone devices ( such as automatically filling out forms, overlaying content or switching between apps ) by allowing app-makers to integrate verbal feedback, voice commands and more in their apps. Many popular Android apps use the accessibility API to legitimately provide users with benefits, but over the past few months, we have seen a series of malware, including DoubleLocker ransomware, Svpeng , and BankBot , misusing this feature to infect people. Re
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