Researchers from Trend Micro have discovered 30 apps on the Play Store that steal users' images and use them for illicit purposes
Your privacy is in danger if you use some infected apps on the Google Play Store. Researchers from Trend Micro, a cybersecurity expert, have discovered 30 apps that can steal users' images and use them on pornographic sites.
The apps all offer the same functionality: they allow you to edit your selfies and pictures by inserting filters or changing some features to make your face more colorful. Beauty apps are one of the most successful categories on the Google Play Store, and it is normal that hackers try to infect this type of apps with viruses and malware. According to the researchers, some of the illicit apps have exceeded one million downloads. Most of the users would be in India, but it is not ruled out that some Italian users have also downloaded one of the 30 infected apps.
What are the 30 dangerous apps
The dangerous apps to delete immediately from your smartphone are: 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, Art Filter Photo Effcts, 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 dangers for users
The applications discovered by Trend Micro researchers operate differently from each other. Some of them display misleading advertisements and in case the user clicks on the ad, a paid pornographic content download starts. Other applications, on the other hand, forced the user to access phishing sites where personal information such as name and email address were requested.
In addition to stealing information and money from users, the applications also try to get hold of people's images. As mentioned, the 30 apps are designed to edit selfies using filters to color the face and make the skin even. When users launch the app and choose an image to edit, the app asks users to upload the photo to the servers. If the request is accepted, the image is "gifted" to the app and developers can use it for pornographic activities.
How to protect your smartphone from the 30 dangerous apps
Trend Micro's discovery once again demonstrates how inefficient Google Play Store systems are against malicious apps. Google Play Protect, the system developed by Big G to protect users, still fails to reach a high standard.
After Trend Micro's report, the 30 malicious apps have been removed from the Play Store and users' smartphones. But what can you do to protect your privacy from infected apps? The best solution is to be very careful. When installing an app whose name you don't know, always check other users' opinions. All apps discovered by Trend Micro had bad reviews, a sign that something was wrong.