Fake apps could be infecting your Android devices with spyware

 Titli Farooqi
  May 21, 2019

Android

A number of fake apps are fooling people into downloading spyware on their cell phones and some of them actually look like real apps. An ongoing Android malware called Triout is reported to record calls, location, and your photos as well.

A number of cybersecurity experts are of the view that the same hackers who took over some of the biggest news organizations websites a few years ago are responsible for these Trojan apps. The aim of these apps is to spy on everything that is going on your phone. These apps work pretty much the same way such as Xnspy, a popular monitoring app for keeping an eye on your children and employees. These apps let you monitor everything like others’ text messages, emails, photos, chats, locations, and a lot more. The Trojan apps do pretty much the same but they are being used to hack data and steal confidential and sensitive information; something monitoring apps won’t let you do.

The problem is that these apps were downloaded from the Google App store but now the most common way to get them is via social media, text, and email. These apps can also take the form of such apps that attract the users making them curious. Researchers reveal that once this fake app is activated, Triout is downloaded to your device and then both records and steals your text messages, photos, videos, phone calls and also records your location.

It is better to avoid third-party app stores in order to protect your phone. After you have downloaded any of these fake apps on your phones, you would begin to receive various links. Avoid clicking on the links from unfamiliar source and see that you download the latest anti-virus and operating system for your phone.

According to Michal Salat, Avast’s Threat Intelligence Director, "The attackers show a surprising combination of behavior. On the one hand, the capabilities of the malware and the fact they weaponized an existing app and still kept its full functionality would point to a sophisticated attacker. On the other hand, the lack of a domain generation algorithm and obfuscation hints at low sophistication."

“This malware could also be very dangerous when used in a targeted attack because of its ability to track the physical location of the victim."

It is best to do a thorough background check of an app before you download it. These fake apps have affected Android users a lot more than iPhone users as iPhones are not vulnerable to such apps and are not an open platform.

Here are a few simple tips to protect your devices against such malware and fake apps:

Always use Official App Stores:

Although it is tempting to look for reliable apps and seek better deals, it is wise that you only go for those apps which you are sure of. There are plenty of scams and fake apps out there that could be a major risk to your phone and personal data. Avoid using pirated copies of anything as well.

Install apps only from official app stores because app files from email attachments or substitute third-party app stores are risky business. You are prone to come across harmful malware.

See App Permissions:

Secondly, always pay attention to the app permissions when you install the app. When you grant permissions to your data carelessly, it allows sensitive data to cybercriminals. If you think something is out of the ordinary and seems unusual, do not download the app. Sometimes, the app may still work without some extra permissions. First, see if you are willing to give those permissions and if you are not comfortable doing so, your simple bet is to avoid using the application.

Go through App reviews:

It is important that you read both positive and negative reviews before you decide to install an app. Quite often than not apps claim to perform certain functions but, in reality, they fail to do so. If you come across such comments or reviews, think twice before you download that app. This is a clear signal that not only the app is a scam but there is a possibility that something malicious is linked to it.

Check your phone’s security settings:

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Go to the security settings of your Android phone and see that that field of unknown sources is unchecked. This feature basically keeps your phone safe while preventing any app other than from the Google Play store. Also, this keeps those websites at bay that trick you into downloading apps automatically when you access that site via your phone.

Use an effective anti-virus:

It is better to be safe than sorry. Always keep an effective anti-virus at hand so that any kind of adware, malware, spyware or ransomware is blocked and rejected right away if it tries to get into your data. With all the data we have on your phones nowadays, it puts us in a vulnerable position while making us an easy target for cybercriminals.

Fake apps could be infecting your Android devices with spyware

Titli Farooqi

I am a tech enthusiast, programmer and a sci-fi fan. I enjoy reviewing and researching new, innovative software that adds value to human life. I love writing about latest technology and trends, and have made this a full-time job.

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