Beware of Malware-laced Christmas festive Android apps

Beware of Malware-laced Christmas festive Android apps

Google's Android accounts for more than 75-percent of global mobile OS market share, but unfortunately, it has become a breeding ground for cybercriminals to prey on naive phone users.

In 2019 alone, thousands of malware-infested apps were detected and taken down from Play store and now, with Christmas around the corner, several festive-themed bad applications have made their way to the Google ecosystem.

Mobile security researchers at Barracuda Network scanned more than 4,200 applications ranging from Christmas shopping apps, Santa video chat, and holiday-themed games. And, to their shock, they uncovered hundreds of malicious apps. 

Using the proprietary Barracuda Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) system, researchers found seven exhibiting malicious behaviour that could replace itself with another name in the app list and hide from detection. They also detected 35 adware-laced apps and another 165 had dangerous combination permissions, which can enable a hacker to steal sensitive information such as private pictures or conversation or personal financial credentials without user consent.

If the Android phone users let their guard down, they will pay a huge price this Christmas festive season, the experts warn.

Read more: Juice Jacking: SBI warns of deadly mobile malware

"Granting excessive permissions can allow apps to harvest a wide variety of personal information, which can either be sold directly or stored, making it susceptible to being leaked later in the event of a data breach. Some permissions, while potentially dangerous, can also serve as good warning signs of a malicious app. For example, granting the ability to read SMS messages could be leveraged to intercept multi-factor authentication tokens," Fleming Shi, Chief Technology Officer, Barracuda, said.

Must read | Google forms App Defense Alliance, wages war on malware

So, far there is no official word from Google with regard to the recent discovery of malicious apps Play store.

Here's how to protect your mobile from malware and other threats
1) Whether you have an Android mobile or iOS-based iPhone, always stay updated with the latest software. Both Google and Apple send regularly send firmware — especially security patches monthly or on a priority basis, whenever they detect threats. So, make sure you install the latest software.
2) Never install apps from unfamiliar publishers. 
3) Always download apps from Google Play or Apple App store only. Never install from any third-party app store.
4) Before tapping the install button, mobile phone users are advised to read a few review posts published by app users on Google Play or App Store 
5) During the installation, be vigilant while granting permission for apps to access photos/locations/messages/contact list. 
6) Another good practice is to install a premium Antivirus software on mobile, which offers 24x7 protection. They are equipped to detect threats quickly whenever you unknowingly visit a shady website
7) Never ever open emails or SMS and click URL links sent from unknown senders 

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