Fake YouTube and WhatsApp apps hiding malware in Google Play Store


Your smartphone has many handy tools already built-in when you open the box. But adding apps makes these handhelds even more impressive.

You can find apps to help you with almost anything you can think of, from banking to language translation to ways to stay organized. Tap or click here for nine apps everyone over 50 should download.

But you have to be careful when looking for apps to add to your device. Cybercriminals are getting better at spoofing real apps to trick victims into downloading ones that hide malware. A new group of apps has been caught hiding malware, including YouTube and WhatsApp lookalikes. Read on to avoid these dangerous apps.

Here is the backstory

Android devices are constantly in the crosshairs of cybercriminals, who create malicious apps to infect their gadgets. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, underscored the seriousness of the problem, explaining in its Q2 2022 Adversarial Threat report that a group of hackers operates several legitimate applications.

Known as the Bitter APT, the South Asian hacker collective’s attacks are “relatively unsophisticated” but still threaten Android users. Meta discovered that the group was using a malware variant known as Dracarys, hijacking accessibility services by granting permissions to apps without the user’s knowledge.

The malware allows cybercriminals to access your personal information. It can steal call logs, files, SMS, contact information, device details etc. But the threats don’t stop there. The malware can also allow your phone’s camera and microphone to secretly take photos, videos, and record conversations. Ouch!

The group of malicious apps includes spoofed versions of YouTube and WhatsApp. Here is the list of spoofed apps to avoid:

  • Youtube
  • Signal
  • Telegram
  • WhatsApp

Meta said other chat apps capable of accessing call logs, contacts, files and text messages could also be compromised and bypass apps from third-party app stores. The group behind the bad apps also managed to prevent them from being detected by antivirus software.

“Although the malware functionality is fairly standard, existing public antivirus systems have not detected its supporting infrastructure. This shows that Bitter has successfully reimplemented common malware functionality in a way that has gone undetected. by the security community for some time,” Meta explains in the report.

What can you do about it

Even though official app stores like Google Play and Apple’s App Store sometimes let bad apps through their verification process, it’s best to stick with official app stores. Third-party stores are more likely to contain infected apps.

Here are some tips to prevent apps from hiding malware:

  • For Android users, enable Google Play Protect by going to Google Play Store > Profile > Play Protect > Settings and turn on Scan apps with Play Protect.
  • Only download apps from official app stores. Always go to the official source and check that you are installing the correct app.
  • Beware of apps that use a similar logo to other popular apps or have similar functions. Also check reviews to see if other people are warning you about suspicious activity.
  • Pay attention to permissions. Stay away if an app wants full access to your text messages or notifications.
  • Keep your device up to date. Always make sure your operating system and anti-virus software are using the latest version.
  • Have reliable antivirus software on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan of TotalAV Internet Security for just $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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