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Google Removes 17 Android Apps From Play Store After They Were Found Stealing User Data

Darab Ali
·2-min read

Google has removed 17 Android applications from its Play Store after they were found to be infected with Joker malware. Joker malware is usually used by attackers to get into Android phones and steal information like SMS messages, OTPs, and user data. The spyware is often used to signed up victims for premium wireless application protocol (WAP) services without their knowledge. The removal comes after researchers at security firm Zscaler spotted the malware and alerted Google. Zscaler security researcher Viral Gandhi said that Google's Android Security team took prompt action to remove the suspicious apps from the Google Play store.

The research firm said that the 17 apps identified by it were uploaded to Google Play Store in September 2020. These apps were downloaded 1,20,000 times in total. Gandhi, in a blog post, said that monitoring the Joker spyware prompted the firm to evaluate how Joker is successful at getting around Google Play's vetting process. Further, Zscaler went on to explain the tactics used by the malware author to bypass Google Play Store's approval process in the blog post. Following are the 17 apps removed by Google:

  • All Good PDF Scanner
  • Mint Leaf Message-Your Private Message
  • Unique Keyboard - Fancy Fonts & Free Emoticons
  • Tangram App Lock
  • Direct Messenger
  • Private SMS
  • One Sentence Translator - Multifunctional Translator
  • Style Photo Collage
  • Meticulous Scanner
  • Desire Translate
  • Talent Photo Editor - Blur focus
  • Care Message
  • Part Message
  • Paper Doc Scanner
  • Blue Scanner
  • Hummingbird PDF Converter - Photo to PDF
  • All Good PDF Scanner
  • A report in ZDNet said that Google even used its Play Protect service to disable the apps on already infected devices. However, users would still need to remove them from their smartphones. Google had, in a January blog post, said that Joker is the most persistent and advanced threat it has dealt with in the past few years. The company said that its security teams have removed more than 1,700 apps containing Joker malware from the Play Store since 2017.