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Google BANS 150 apps! Millions of Android users must delete them or pay a price

Google BANS 150 apps! Millions of Android users must delete them or pay a price

Google BANS 150 apps! Millions of Android users must delete them or pay a price

It’s another bad day for Android users with Google just banning over 100 apps from its popular Play Store. The latest bunch of applications to be removed from this online marketplace were found to feature a nasty malware dubbed “UltimaSMS”.

This SMS text scam was able to sign unsuspecting users up to premium services which could end costing Android owners around $40 per month (£28) for nothing in return. The shock scam was detected by the tech experts at AVAST with Google instantly banning the applications once they were informed of the threat.

However, this fresh block may come too late for some with it thought that the apps were downloaded millions of times before being removed.

To maximise their success the apps disguised themselves as popular services including custom keyboards, QR code scanners, video and photo editors, spam call blockers, camera filters, and games. According to AVAST, the apps were also being promoted via ads on social media networks, such as Tik Tok and Instagram which all helped boost their popularity.

Once downloaded, the apps instantly begins to check a users’ device location, IMEI, and phone number to determine in which language to display the scam. When a user opens the app, they are asked to enter their phone number and in some cases, their email address as well, in order to use the apps’ advertised purposes. If submitted, this step signs the user up for a premium SMS subscription.

“The apps are disguised as genuine apps through well constructed app profiles on the Play Store. These profiles feature catchy photos, with well written descriptions, and often have high review averages. However, when taking a closer look, they have generic privacy policy statements, feature basic developer profiles including generic email addresses,” explained Jakub Vávra. “Despite having high review averages, many have numerous negative reviews from users that correctly identified the apps as scams or have fallen for the scam. Unfortunately, children seem susceptible to these scams, based on the reviews left on the app profiles.”

AVAST now says that Android users must disable premium SMS options with their networks to avoid falling victim to this scam.

Additionally, they advise mobile users carefully check reviews before downloading any apps, as scam apps often have boosted review averages, but poor written reviews. These should serve as red flags.

Even when an app is downloaded it’s wise to keep personal information, such as phone numbers or email addresses private and only share them with apps you really trust.

If you are worried about UltimaSMS then a full list of apps affected can be found here.

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