Kaspersky Reveals Malware in Google Play Apps, 600 Million Downloads at Risk

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Kaspersky Reveals Malware in Google Play Apps, 600 Million Downloads at Risk
(Image: pixabay.com / R-region)

Google proudly promotes its own Play Store as the “safest source” for obtaining Android apps. However, according to security researchers at Kaspersky, they have identified a series of apps with malware that were downloaded over 600 million times from Google’s App Store just this year alone. Contrary to common belief, the examinations of apps offered there are not as thorough as most users assume, according to the researchers’ report.

Google Play hosts more than three million different applications, many of which are regularly updated. The report suggests that the scrutiny of these apps exceeds the capacity even of large corporations like Google. Malicious actors are aware of this, having developed various techniques over time to spread their malware through Google’s store.

Hundreds of malicious apps on the Play Store

The Kaspersky report highlights several examples of malicious applications downloaded from Google Play this year. These include the trojanized app iRecorder with 50,000 downloads, the Fleckpe trojan distributed across multiple apps with 620,000 downloads, and a Chinese spyware spread through two file manager apps with a combined 1.5 million downloads.

In August, a team of security researchers discovered adware spread through 43 different apps totaling 2.5 million downloads. Additionally, several Minecraft clones, collectively installed 35 million times, contained integrated adware. However, the most significant discovery was in May when almost 200 different Android apps were infected with a malware called Spinok, downloaded 451 million times through Google Play.

Google Play still the “safest source” for Android apps

The researchers from Kaspersky emphasized that the mentioned examples are just a selection of the most notable malicious apps spread through Google Play this year, and not an exhaustive list of all known cases.

Despite their findings, the researchers emphasize that official app stores remain the “safest sources” for downloading apps, and obtaining software from other sources is even riskier. However, users should remain vigilant even when downloading from Google Play and not blindly trust that all offered apps are secure.

For those looking to download an app, it is recommended to carefully examine the app’s store page and the developer’s name to identify potential counterfeits. Positive reviews should not be solely relied upon, as they can be easily manipulated, while negative reviews may provide useful clues that something is amiss with an app.

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Carl Woodrow
A seasoned tech enthusiast and writer, Carl delves deep into emerging technologies, offering insightful analysis and reviews on the latest gadgets and trends.