Last updated on March 9, 2021
Google removed 17 apps from its Play Store that contained particularly malicious malware called “Joker”. Affected users should delete the apps from their smartphones as soon as possible.
Joker is already an old friend when it comes to malicious software on Android smartphones. For years, Google has been deleting apps infected with the malware from the Play Store again and again – such apps have now been downloaded several hundred thousand times. But as soon as the company takes action and removes the infected apps, Joker reappears in other applications.
Joker can secretly send SMS – and thus incur costs
What makes Joker so difficult to detect is the ingenious tactics the malware uses to get onto smartphones. When installing apps from the Play Store, a small part of the malware is hidden in the advertisements or the app itself. Only when users run the app and certain criteria for user data, network provider and end device are met does the smaller component load the actual malware from the internet.
As ” Forbes ” reports, Joker remains hidden even then and can read contact lists, SMS and other user data in the background. With its access to SMS messages, Joker can also register smartphone owners for paid internet services that require confirmation via SMS. However, the user only notices a little of all of this when it is too late.
New cases of malware in September
The security researchers at the IT lab Zscaler have found out why Joker is so successful. The malware keeps changing parts of the code and the installation method to avoid detection. The lab evaluated 17 apps that were placed on the Play Store in September 2020 and have been downloaded a total of 120,000 times since then. (Note: The “All Good PDF Scanner” app is incorrectly mentioned twice on the page, but the “Powerful Cleaner” app is missing.)
Google has now removed the apps from the Play Store. However, on smartphones that have already been charged, they must be removed manually. If you have one of the apps listed here on your smartphone, TECHSCURRY advises you to uninstall it as soon as possible.
|App name||Installation package name|
|Paper Doc scanner||com.docscannercamscanpaper|
|Talent Photo Editor – Blur focus||com.focusphoto.talent.editor|
|One Sentence Translator – Multifunctional Translator||com.nightsapp.translate.sentence|
|Tangram App Lock||com.password.quickly.applock|
|Style photo collage||com.styles.simple.photocollage.photos|
|Unique Keyboard – Fancy Fonts & Free Emoticons||com.unique.input.style.my.keyboard|
|Hummingbird PDF Converter – Photo to PDF||pdf.converter.image.scanner.files|
|Mint Leaf Message-Your Private Message||mintleaf.message.messenger.tosms.ml|
|All good PDF scanner||com.gooders.pdfscanner.gp|
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How you can protect yourself
Since Google continues to have problems with malware that can hide as well as Joker, much of the responsibility lies with the users. You can protect yourself by paying close attention to what access an app requires each time you install it. If a PDF scanner or a translator wants to have access to SMS, contacts, call lists and more, you should be suspicious. If you are unsure, the app ratings in the Play Store can often help. If there are many negative voices and warnings here, you should stay away from the app.