Brace yourself for this troubling revelation. A new report from researchers at the IT security solutions firm Dr. Web found that over 100 Android apps that collectively have over an astounding 421 million downloads are infected with a new malware strain.
What is this new malware strain?
The malware strain has been named SpinOK, and it also contains a spyware module within it. SpinOK is being used mainly as a marketing software development kit (SDK) and was designed to maintain users’ interest in apps with the help of mini-games, a system of tasks, and alleged prizes and reward drawings.
Below is an example of an ad SpinOk displays:
The team at Dr. Web found that SpinOK is capable of invading even the best Android phone models and stealing private information stored on them, including data from sensors that can be used to detect a simulated or test environment and adjust the operating routine to avoid being detected by cybersecurity experts.
Once it has the information it needs, it will send it to a remote server controlled by the cybercriminals running SpinOK.
What are the apps that have been affected?
There are over 100 Android apps that have been affected by this malware strain, and you can find a full list of them here. However, here is a list of the apps that have been downloaded the most often.
Biugo - video maker&video editor (at least 50,000,000 installations)
CashEM: Get Rewards (at least 5,000,000 installations)
Cashzine - Earn money reward (at least 10,000,000 installations)
Crazy Drop (at least 10,000,000 installations)
Fizzo Novel - Reading Offline (at least 10,000,000 installations)
MVBit - MV video status maker (at least 50,000,000 installations)
Noizz: video editor with music (at least 100,000,000 installations)
Tick: watch to earn (at least 5,000,000 installations)
VFly: video editor&video maker (at least 50,000,000 installations)
Zapya - File Transfer, Share (at least 100,000,000 installations; the trojan module was present in version 6.3.3 to version 6.4 and is no longer present in current version 6.4.1)
Many of these apps have been taken off the Google Play Store. However, some have just been updated to no longer include the malware strain. If you really want to keep an app that is listed, you can update it to its latest version. Although, I would recommend deleting it altogether.
What can I do to protect myself against infected apps in the future?
It's always an unfortunate thing when apps we love that seem safe at first end up being infected with malware. With these apps it is still unclear whether the app developers were tricked by the distributors of SpinOK or if the malware was included in the apps on purpose, so you have to be vigilant about protecting yourself and not putting all your trust into every app you see. Here are some of my tips.
Remove apps from Android
If you have any malicious apps on your Android phone, delete them immediately by following these steps:
Update your apps and operating system
Developers regularly release updates that include security patches to fix vulnerabilities. Keep your apps and operating system up-to-date to ensure you have the latest protection against potential threats.
Antivirus software provides more comprehensive protection by scanning your device for viruses, spyware, and other types of malware. It can also detect and remove malicious software that has already been installed on your device and alert you of any phishing emails or ransomware scams. Most importantly, antivirus software will prevent you from clicking a malicious link that could install malware on your device in the first place.
See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices by heading to CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech
Look for good reviews
Although having antivirus software is very helpful, it never hurts to do your own research before downloading an app. Even if the app comes from a source like the Google Play Store, keep in mind that Google Play Store apps can always get infected, and reviews and ratings on there can be faked.
It's a good idea to look for reviews in places besides the Google Play Store. Check to see if the app has a website or social media page that you can look through. Go to YouTube and see if anyone has done video reviews on the app so that you can see how it really works. And always be cautious if the app is asking to use certain permissions like access to your photos or contacts.
Be skeptical of app clones
Sometimes, cybercriminals create fake or cloned versions of popular apps to trick you into downloading malware. Pay attention to app names, developer names, and reviews to ensure you're downloading the legitimate version.
Trust your instincts
If something feels off about an app, trust your gut instincts. If an app seems suspicious, has poor reviews, or exhibits unexpected behavior, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid downloading or using it.
Kurt's key takeaways
The most important thing to remember is that not every app can be trusted. Although having lots of great reviews and downloads is helpful, we can see now that those reviews and downloads don't always matter because any app can be infected with malware. Do the research and download the antivirus software to make sure you're protected above all else.
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