Despite the numerous steps taken by Google to clean up its Play Store and remove apps which are malicious in nature, at least 15 apps have been freshly identified as harmful. This has come out through a team in the British cybersecurity firm Sophos. The firm has informed Google and the apps have been removed from the Play Store. However, if you had downloaded any of these by mistake, have them uninstalled from your Android mobile phone immediately.
A majority of these 15, appear to be photo-editing apps with names like ‘image editor’, ‘background cutout’, ‘autocut photo’ and ‘autocut picture’ etc. Some offer the scanning function on the mobile. As far as you are concerned, just check on your mobile if any of these rogue apps are present and uninstall all of them. The interesting part is that all these 15 apps have appeared between January and July of 2019. In all, these have already been downloaded onto 1.3 million devices. Google should check this out since it is supposed to have put in place several checks to ensure apps are now allowed to be included in the Play Store unless they pass the security checks.
The 15 apps are: Image Magic, Generate Elves, Savexpense, QR Artifact, Find your Phone, Scavenger Speed, Auto Cut Out Pro, Read QR Code, Flash on Calls & Msg, Photo Background, ImageProcessing, Background Cut Out, Background Cut Out (developed by Haltermore), Auto Cut Out and Auto Cut Out 2019
The danger from these apps, as detected by the research team, is that they don’t show up so easily. The best way for you is to tap on the Settings icon that is usually in the shape of a gear and go to the Apps & Notifications page. If your phone has a recently used apps section and if you find any of the above 15 apps, immediately Force Stop them, and subsequently Uninstall them. Some of these malicious apps can directly invade your private data. The fear is there may be more such apps lurking in the Play Store.
The bottom line for the phone users is not to download free apps just because they are free. Anyone spending money to develop an app is not going to give it to you free of cost. There will be ads in the apps. These ads can be many times dangerous. Some of the advertisers plant malicious content in their ads which are capable of spreading quickly in your mobile and if you happen to keep personal data like banking information on your mobile, you must be extremely careful what apps you download on the device.