Android, it’s Joker alert: it has already infected half a million users

Researchers from CSIS Security Group have discovered a trojan virus present inside 24 applications. Here's how to defend yourself

Once again, the Google Play Store is the protagonist of a report by a cybersecurity company. And not to receive compliments related to the impenetrability of the system. The company CSIS Security Group has discovered 24 new applications that hide a trojan virus capable of infecting Android smartphones and installing malware that steals users' personal information.

Trojans are a particular type of virusĀ used as a weapon to infect devices with increasingly powerful malware. The trojan "breaks" the defenses of the smartphone or computer and leaves the door open for the installation of new viruses. A devious system that over the years has allowed hackers to infect millions of devices. The new Trojan that affects Android smartphones has been renamed Joker by computer researchers because it is one of the command and control servers used to infect devices. The virus acts in the background and installs add-ons that have the sole purpose of stealing users' personal data.

Like other cases already analyzed in the past (in the last month we have repeatedly talked about applications in the Google Play Store that hid viruses), the Joker virus also shows misleading advertisements to make users activate paid subscriptions.

How Joker Virus Works

Joker is a Trojan virus discovered by CSIS Security Group researchers inside 24 Google Play Store apps that have been downloaded almost half a million times. The way Joker virus works is very peculiar: once the malicious app is downloaded, the virus activates in the background and starts installing new malware that has specific tasks. For example, showing misleading advertisements on the screen, or simulating interaction with advertisements. Other components are capable of stealing contact lists, SMS messages and personal information of users.

Adware viruses hidden inside Joker are also capable of activating unsolicited paid subscriptions without users' knowledge, with the money being deducted directly from the SIM card's remaining credit.

How to protect yourself against Joker

As confirmed by the same IT researchers, Google managed to intercept the virus before the report was published and the 24 offending applications were deleted. The story, however, once again turns the spotlight on the security of the Google Play Store, which in recent weeks has been the protagonist of several stories related to the presence of adware and viruses within the applications.

The secret to defending yourself is to install a good antivirus on your Android smartphone, there are safe, reliable and free ones on the Google Play Store.