The Android operating system is not only the most popular, but most flexible operating system in the word. It is estimated that two billion devices run the Android OS monthly.
This, of course, has caught the attention of malicious hackers and programmers.
Information is becoming more and more valuable (There are websites that actually pay you to take part in surveys). That’s why Facebook was under fire over its data collection scandal.
Malicious programmers build apps that look legitimate, and then hide certain malware or adware softwares in them. If you constantly get ads on your home screen, or when using other apps you notice your phone is slower than normal, or your battery drains easily… Chances are, your phone probably has a malware or an adware.
Google, sensing this, made laws that ensured only truly legitimate apps are listed on Google Play. Most companies insist you download their apps from the play store because it’s one the safest app stores out there.
But Things are Changing Fast
There have been several alerts of malicious apps recently. Six apps reported to have been downloaded ninety million times were found to contain the preAMO malware. While another fifty apps were found to have infected thirty million devices with malware.
Google was quick to react by instantly removing these apps from the play store.
This should have served as a warning to companies and developers… But a recent investigation carried out by buzz field revealed the new way, apps are breaking google laws.
The investigation revealed that certain popular apps were built without malware, but coded in such a way that they can collect and store sensitive data from devices, without permission. The offending apps listed in the investigation were found to have been downloaded one hundred million times.
Buzz field claims that these apps were created by Chinese companies, who might be sharing the stolen data with the Chinese government.
Some of these apps are routinely simple, playful, smallish… Apps you might use a few times and not uninstall, because they take very little space. Some of the exposed apps include:
- Selfie Camera
- Total Cleaner
- Smart Cooler
- RAM Master
- AIO Flashlight
- Omni Cleaner
- Emoji Flashlight
The apps were discovered to have been made by the Chinese developer, DO Global. Buzz field accused DO Global of “committing large-scale ad fraud and abusing user permissions”.
Google’s reaction to this exposé was swift. Forty- six of DO Global’s apps have been removed from the play store.
“We explicitly prohibit ad fraud and service abuse on Google Play,” a spoke person for Google said. “Developers are required to disclose the collection of personal data… If an app violates our policies, we take action that can include banning a developer…”
In another article, buzz field claimed that Google plans on banning DO Global, or revoking their ability to monetize apps.
DO Global has not only issued an apology, but have accepted Google’s penalty.
In the end, Google still remains one of the most secured stores for Android apps, given how quickly they have handled each and every one of these cases.
But as google continues trying to make Google Play safe, there are certain tips and tricks you could adapt to avoid malicious software.
Download Apps only from Google Play Store
Google Play Store basically displays apps particularly tailored for your device. Also, apps on the store receive regular updates. While the latter is great, the former can be a little limiting. Also there’s the complicated process of transferring apps to your SD card; one of the reasons why lots of people use other stores. If you must use another store, do the following:
- Ensure the app is still being supported by Google Play, before downloading it. Do not download an app that is not listed on Google Play Store, unless you trust the developer.
- Only download from other popular app stores.
- Read reviews.
Take Immediate Action at the first sign of Malware and Adware.
Malware and adware are like parasites – strategically hidden. Immediately you notice ads popping up when you turn on your internet connection; or you notice your phone is becoming slower… Uninstall recent apps whose installation coincide with the period the issues began. If the problem persists, run a good anti-virus app (like Kaspersky mobile antivirus) on your phone. The really good ones are not free, but most have a free trial period.
If google plays their part and you play your part in protecting yourself, malicious companies would definitely continue to lose.