Google has reportedly removed 13 apps from the Google Play Store that were installing malware on devices. This was revealed in a series of tweets by ESET security researcher Lukas Stefanko who also said that these apps all together have been downloaded on over 5,60,000 Android devices.
The apps, listed as Truck Cargo Simulator, Extreme Car Driving and Hyper Car Driving Simulator and more have since been removed from the Play Store. The researcher adds that two of these apps were even listed under the Play Store’s trending section. Another interesting thing is that all of these 13 apps have a single developer – Luiz O Pinto.
The apps do not have any legitimate functionality but request users to install APK called ‘Game Center’ that once launched, hides itself and displays advertisements when device is unlocked. The researcher also posted a video, which demonstrates how these apps work.
Don’t install these apps from Google Play – it’s malware.
-all together 560,000+ installs
-after launch, hide itself icon
-downloads additional APK and makes user install it (unavailable now)
-2 apps are #Trending
-no legitimate functionality
— Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) November 19, 2018
Last month, researchers at Cisco Talos discovered Android malware, GPlayed that uses an icon similar to Google Play Store, capable of things like monitoring location of the user’s device to harvesting their banking credentials. The Android Trojan uses the label, “Google Play Marketplace” which makes it less likely for users to detect.
In January this year, Google said in a blog post that it removed more than 7,00,000 apps that violated the Google Play policies and 1,00,000 bad developers from the Play Store in 2017. In 2017, Google claims to have taken down over a quarter of a million of apps, which were impersonating well known or more famous apps.