Google Play Store has improved a lot over the last several months with respect to keeping malicious apps at bay, but it seems that the measures put in place by Google aren’t enough and hundreds of malicious apps are still lurking around in the Play Store hiding has legitimate apps and games.
That’s the claim put forward by security researchers at TrendLabs who detected over 400 malicious apps on the Android app store. TrendLabs also revealed that their Mobile App Reputation Service has detected as many as 16.6 million instances of apps infected with malware – many of which are on Google Play Store.
A report by the security company highlights the susceptibility of Android platform to ‘DressCode’ malware that is spreading stealthily since April this year. The DressCode malware gives attackers a way into the networks of compromised devices, and can also put at risk the devices that get connected to it. Once installed, these apps are capable of spying as well as forwarding a user’s data from protected networks.
One such malicious app has been disguised as a Grand Theft Auto V mod that is designed for Minecraft (Pocket Edition). This app has been downloaded between 100,000 – 500,000 times. The malicious code is difficult to detect because it makes only a small part of an app.
Back in July, a Trend Micro report claimed that a malware called Godless had affected over 8,50,000 devices worldwide. Out of those device 46.19 per cent of the infected devices were from India. Godless is designed to target all Android devices running Android 5.1 Lollipop or earlier. The malware is part of many apps on the Google Play Store.
According to Trend Micro, Godless waits for the device’s screen to turn off before roots the device before dropping a payload that appears as a system app that cannot be easily removed. The malware then installs unwanted apps on the device, and can be used to spy on users.
Despite best efforts, hackers are occasionally able to slip past Google’s app scrutiny. It is always advised to download apps from known developers, and to make sure that no unwanted permissions are requested by the app. It is also advised to download antivirus apps from trusted developers.