Google has removed some 29 malicious beauty camera apps from the Play Store for forwarding users to phishing sites to steal their information — amid other security issues including sharing pornographic content. Many of these apps, which have been downloaded millions of times involved ‘beauty’ apps — artistic filters for images, and stickers.
The apps, which were discovered by Trend Micro, have now been removed from the Play Store by Google.
“A user downloading one of these apps will not immediately suspect that there is anything amiss until they decide to delete the app.” Trend Micro
In some instances, the apps would hide their icons in order to make it difficult for users to uninstall; while in others, users are met with several full-screen ads when they unlock their devices, in some cases, pornography and other malicious ads that open up through the phone’s browser.
Out of the 29 identified apps, three, namely; Pro Camera Beauty, Emoji Camera, and Cartoon Art Photo, were installed more than 1,000,000 times each. One app, Artistic effect Filter, was installed more than half a million times, and seven others got more than 100,000 installations.
Since the apps gave no indication about their involvement in the ads, that made it difficult for users to locate their source.
Of greater concern are the instances where user images were saved by the apps to remote servers for use in probably other malicious purposes — which may include creating fake social media profiles.