Google Play Store Is Filling Up With Malware And It’s Almost Undetectable

Google Play Store Is Filling Up With Malware And It’s Almost Undetectable
Android Cyber Security

A majority of public using a smartphone holds an Android device, which is powered by the Google-owned mobile OS and applications supported and approved by Google Play Store and Google Play Services. The built-in Play Store is the biggest bag of smartphone applications and is a platform for worldwide developers to test their user-oriented creations. However, in the long-run, Android devices have had a fair share of malware attacks, device hijacking, and other malicious cyber activities.

Moreover, there are plenty of malicious applications that have been on Play Store, harming devices on which they are installed. It’s important that these threats on Android, which we often neglect, are now recognized and dealt with.

Android Play Store Regularly Getting Malware Apps

google play icon

Reports of Android devices becoming prone to malware breaches have drastically risen since Android has ever debuted. Surveys have shown a 40% increase in Android malware cases since 2012, and this is a matter of huge concern, given the fact that 80% of smartphone users are preferring Android devices over other operating systems available in the market. Reason? The price. iOS devices from Apple, which is the prime competitor to Android, are priced at a premium and thus, iOS-powered devices aren’t affordable for consumers.

android apps on google play
Image Source: Tech Republic

Last year, it was reported that there were 13 applications, mostly car simulation games, which were actually held malicious files in them. Though Google quickly and swiftly took down those apps, but not before these apps had combinedly registered over 500,000 downloads. This means 500,000 Android users were then subjected to loss of data and device control. Earlier this year, a report from Wired claimed that the Play Store was holding 20 malicious applications, and some of them were dated back to 2016, which means that they have been successfully hacking into user devices for the last three years. Besides this, malware like BankBot is regularly targeting Android Apps for stealing credentials and hampering users’ social media accounts (which they hardly log out from).

But how these apps are getting into Android devices?

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Irregular Security Updates and Failure to Update Google Play Services

Irregular Security Updates and Failure to Update Google Play Services
Image Source: 9to5 Google

Android OS is also available in the form of an Open Source Project. Mobile phone makers can use that and modify their own OS based on regular Android. However, in such cases, it is up to the mobile phone manufacturers to offer regular security updates as soon as Google launches in its original stock-Android. However, many of the manufacturers fail to offer these updates. Moreover, users at their end have also been careless. People don’t update Google Play Services and Android versions. Why? Storage issues, or device incompatibility with the latest versions. So, instead of changing devices, they continue accessing Play Store on older versions. This leads to more security threats. It has been found that a number of people are still using versions before Android 8.0 Oreo, whereas the percentage of people who have successfully transited to Android 9.0 Pie is less than 10%.

How Malware Affects Applications Despite Google Play Defense?

google play defence

Simple. The large user base and a large scale of application approval requests. Google Play Protect, the defense mechanism Google uses to scan applications is potentially equipped with both developer skills and machine scanning capabilities to detect malware in apps. However, hackers are a step ahead. Malicious content in applications is hidden in encrypted formats to dupe Play Protect. It is delayed for execution, so Play Protect doesn’t detect it at first. It is after someone pinpoints that Google takes that app down. A large number of approval requests and a heavy library of applications have made it impossible for Google to offer human supervision to all the applications available on the Store.

malware in google play store
Image Source: Portal Hoy

Google claims that its Play Protect defense system is 99% capable of detecting and removing malware apps, and that the company is trying to get that one per cent void filled via combined research and experimentation. But, numbers say it differently. In 2017 alone, Google took down half-a-million apps from the Play Store. Earlier this year, Google banned developers directly, thus, automatically banning all their applications as well. This suggests that Google is somewhat falling short of protecting users from such content that can harm their devices.

VPN Use and External Attacks

VPN Use and External Attacks
Image Source: CNET Download

Some of the malware content enters into applications and Android devices via external malware attacks. Recently, Android has detected malware from Triada family of malicious files, which can breach security over the phone before it is fired up by the consumer. On the other hand, people’s regular use of unreliable VPNs to access blocked content has created issues. There are hundreds of VPNs on Play Store and not all of them are safe. Some run ads, some of which can be malicious and can breach your mobile phone defense. Russian authorities have recently demanded that no app of site banned by the State are to be run on VPNs. It’s a direct violation of the law and is highly insecure to Android devices.

The attacks on Android devices and the extent of malicious content on the Play Store are unlikely to go down soon. Amidst all this, the least users can do is to use antimalware applications and engage in regular and real-time scans on their phones.

The best choice for that can be Systweak Antimalware.

Systweak Antimalware

Systweak Antimalware is an easy-to-use antimalware application that helps you scan all the applications you install on your phone. Made specifically for Android users, Systweak Antimalware has a Deep Scan mode, which runs through your applications and helps you detect any application with malicious content. Let’s look at a few features that Systweak Antimalware offers.

Scan the Entire Device:

The application consists of two scan modes. Deep Scan and Quick Scan. While Quick Scan goes through the applications currently installed on your device, Deep Scan runs through files and folders to detect any potentially risky .apk file that you may have downloaded from a third-party sources, or have taken it from a friend’s device via a sharing app.

Scan the Entire Device

You can change the scan preferences via Settings

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Scan for Permissions:

You’ve got a number of applications which you grant access to your personal data. For example, a gallery application would use your Storage. A social media app may use your location, media, and your camera. Maps always use your location at the highest accuracy. But there may be apps on your system that are unnecessarily using data from your device without any genuine applications. There are design apps that demand access to your Caller app. Why would an application made for design and craft require Caller details? To help you get that information, Systweak Antimalware run a Privacy Scan on your device and categorize apps per the permissions they have been granted on your phone.

Once the scan is completed, this is how your apps would be categorized;

Scan for Permissions

Via Systweak Antimalware App, you can know the level of permissions granted to an app , which can further protect you from sharing your personal user data to unwanted applications.

Scan Third-Party Apps:

There are applications that you download from third-party applications. Some of them are downloaded to access blocked content, some for torrenting, or for various other reasons. With Systweak Antimalware, you can determine whether downloading that third-party application on your device was a wise decision or not.

Scheduled Scans:

With Systweak Antimalware, you can also schedule scans. This would help you to regularly monitor your device for the presence of malicious content.

Real-Time Protection:

Systweak Antimalware also offers real-time protection, under which, it prevents any malicious program from launching itself. This way, your device is protected from any abrupt attack from any malware file.

While Google tends to fix issues with Play Protect and ensure complete protection, it’s always better to have a backup of your won, and Systweak Antimalware is one of the finest you’ll get. Another of the app’s advantage is, that like other antimalware applications, Systweak Antimalware does not run advertisements of any kind. This means, that your device is not being monitored and none of your data is accessed and shared for monetary reasons to digital advertisers. With much reliability and a variety of protection features available, it’s better to go with Systweak Antimalware rather than being stuck on hopes of complete security and ad-supporting malware apps.

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