Google has removed dozens of popular fake photo apps meant to hurt its users. Security firm Trend Micro discovered 29 malicious apps that were listed on the official Google Play store, all advertised as “beauty camera” applications.
The apps have since been removed by Google. The 29 malicious apps were downloaded more than 4 million times. Three of the apps alone accounted for more than 3 million of the downloads.
The apps are said to send malicious ads to users, send them to phishing websites and also steal their private pictures. The list of 29 apps is as given below;
Pro Camera Beauty, Cartoon Art Photo, Emoji Camera, Artistic effect Filter, Art Editor, Beauty Camera, Selfie Camera Pro, Horizon Beauty Camera, Super Camera, Art Effects for Photo, Awesome Cartoon Art, Art Filter Photo, Cartoon Effect, Art Effect, Photo Editor.
Wallpapers HD, Magic Art Filter Photo Editor, Fill Art Photo Editor, ArtFlipPhotoEditing, Art Filter, Cartoon Art Photo, Prizma Photo Effect, Cartoon Art Photo Filter, Art Filter Photo Editor, Pixture, Art Effect, Photo Art Effect and Cartoon Photo Filter.
The photo apps carried out a number of nefarious activities on Android devices which they were installed to. Some of the apps would load up a full-screen advertisement for fraudulent or pornographic content every time a user unlocked the device.
Trend Micro points out that even technically legal content, such as pornography, promoted by these apps were a scam. In their investigation, the security analysts paid for an adult video player pushed by the apps, which did not play any content.
Instead of providing a filtered version of the pic in return, the app would display a picture with a fake message telling them they need to update the app.
Trend Micro believes these stolen photos are used for other malicious activities, such as social media photos on fake accounts. The app would upload a user’s photo to a private server.
These apps were made to be incredibly difficult to catch. The developers behind them used compression archives, also known as “packers,” which basically make them hard to analyze.
If a user were to attempt to uninstall applications in order to find the culprit, they would come across a problem there too. These fake beauty apps were hidden from a user’s application list.