Google Play app with 500,000 downloads despatched consumer contacts to Russian server

Patrick

An Android app with greater than 500,000 downloads from Google Play has been caught internet hosting malware that surreptitiously sends customers’ contacts to an attacker-controlled server and indicators up customers to dear subscriptions, a safety agency reported.

The app, named Colour Message, was nonetheless accessible on Google servers on the time this publish was being ready. Google eliminated it greater than three hours after I requested the corporate for remark.

Ostensibly, Colour Message enhances textual content messaging by doing issues resembling including emojis and blocking junk texts. However in response to researchers at Pradeo Safety mentioned on Thursday, Colour Message incorporates a household of malware often known as Joker, which has contaminated thousands and thousands of Android gadgets prior to now.

“Our evaluation of the Colour Message software by means of the Pradeo Safety engine reveals that it accesses customers’ contact listing and exfiltrates it over the community,” the corporate’s weblog publish said. “Concurrently, the appliance routinely subscribes to undesirable paid companies unbeknownst to customers. To make it tough to be eliminated, the appliance has the aptitude to cover its icon as soon as put in.”

Pradeo’s discovery marks solely the newest occasion of Google internet hosting malicious wares that hurt customers of its Android cell working system. Whereas the corporate scans apps for malware and often removes large numbers of submissions proactively, there’s no scarcity of apps Google misses. The frequent reviews of rogue apps accessible by means of Play tarnishes an in any other case clear safety scorecard for the cell OS, a minimum of because it’s accessible on Google-developed Pixel gadgets.

Joker falls right into a class of malware often known as Fleeceware. It simulates clicks and intercepts textual content messages in an try to surreptitiously subscribe customers to paid premium companies they by no means supposed to purchase. Joker is tough to detect due to the tiny footprint of its code and the methods its builders use to stash it. Over the previous few years, the malware has been discovered lurking in a whole bunch of apps downloaded by thousands and thousands of individuals.

In addition to sending customers’ contacts to a server that seems to be positioned in Russia and subscribing to undesirable companies, Colour Message additionally fails to reveal the extent of the actions the app can carry out on customers’ gadgets.

As common, Android customers must be circumspect earlier than downloading apps. A very good rule of thumb is to obtain apps solely after they present a real profit after which to decide on ones made by identified corporations, when doable. Folks also needs to learn the consumer opinions to see if there are reviews of malice.

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