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Play Store malware downloaded by unsuspecting users nearly half a million times

The new Android trojan has been dubbed ‘The Joker’

A new malware threat has found its way onto the Play Store, despite Google’s best efforts to keep the platform squeaky clean. Named ‘The Joker’, the trojan virus was operating on 24 different Android apps before it was discovered.

Initially discovered by security researcher Aleksejs Kuprins, the virus was designed to take money from victims by simulating a signup process that would sneakily sign users up for premium subscription services without them even knowing.

By using a background component in the app, the malware silently clicks on adverts, and can even sign unwitting users up to paid subscription services by simulating a click on a sign-up button. The trojan can then access the app’s authorisation code via SMS and use this to authorise a premium subscription, which it then takes the money for.

These apps have now been removed but not before they were downloaded nearly half a million times by unknowing users. It’s not exactly clear how many people are still at risk from the virus but if you’ve installed any of the below apps, you should delete them IMMEDIATELY.

  • Altar Message
  • Antivirus Security – Security Scan
  • Beach CameraAdvocate Wallpaper
  • Age Face
  • Board picture editing
  • Mini Camera
  • Print Plant scan
  • Rapid Face Scanner
  • Reward Clean
  • Ruddy SMS
  • Soby Camera
  • Collate Face Scanner
  • Ignite Clean
  • Leaf Face Scanner
  • Spark Wallpaper
  • Cute Camera
  • Certain Wallpaper
  • Climate SMS
  • Dazzle Wallpaper
  • Declare Message
  • Display Camera
  • Great VPN
  • Humour Camera

According to Kuprins, the malware was able to target users in 37 countries, provided the victim was using a SIM card originally from one of the countries in question.

Targeted countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Argentina, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

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The above apps are just the ones that have been discovered so far, meaning others may have been targeted but have yet to be taken down. Google seems to be on top of the issue though, and has been quickly taking down any apps it believes to be compromised.

Anyone who has downloaded the compromised apps should delete them immediately if they have not done so already. Users should then continue to monitor their bank statements for unusual activity and subscriptions.

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