This past week Google pulled thirteen games from their Google Play store because they were found to be malware. Lukas Stefanko, a security researcher from ESET, discovered the nefarious nature of these apps and brought them to public attention via twitter on November 19th. All thirteen “games” were published by the same developer, a certain Luiz O Pinto.
In his tweet, Stefanko estimated that the apps had been installed over 560,000 times in total. Two of the thirteen apps were trending in the app store, making them more accessible due to the increased visibility from being featured in the store. These apps had no functional gameplay and instead loaded a separate program called “Game Center”. Game Center gained full network access to your phone and displayed ads upon phone unlock. With its full network access, this app also could potentially monitor all network traffic moving through the device.
If you think you may have fallen victim to one of these malware apps, the safest route to eliminating the malware is to factory reset your device after backing up all critical files and pictures. You could also attempt to remove the malware via specialized software like MalwareBytes.
It is hard to imagine how “games” providing no entertainment managed to trend in the Google Play store, but this is a timely reminder not to blinding trust any software that has potential to harm your device. When browsing for apps and games, do your research: look for the number of downloads, read the reviews, and/or check the app’s ratings. All it takes to infect your system is installing one bad application or clicking on one bad link.
As always, stay safe out there.
On behalf of the team at PJ-Networks