Recent hacks and data breach incidents have smartphone users worried about the camera apps that they install and use .
According to Haystack, 70% of smartphone apps retrieve user’s personal information . In addition they give it to third-party companies.
Mobile app companies deploy a lot of various ways to steal users’ data, many times without the user’s consent. What they do with that information could range from better user experiences to selling that data for profit.
As a matter of fact , applications that collect user’s data without permission are not allowed on Google Play Store as per Google Play Store’s strict policies.
However, even if you see an application available on Google Play Store doesn’t mean that it is legitimate . Despite so many efforts by Google Play Store, many fake and malicious applications do sneak in and gets thousands and millions of unaware users on the target of scammers and hackers.
Recently a cyber security firm Trend Micro uncovered a lot of camera/photo applications that sneaked into Google Play Store , In addition they have been downloaded millions of times . However , Google Play Store removed them. In addition, these Camera Apps were caught stealing User’s data .
These applications disguised as camera / photo apps were found to have some additional code that performed malicious activities on the users’ smartphone.
In addition, once installed , these applications would forcefully show advertisements on victim’s device for fraudulent or pornographic content. These applications even redirected users to malicious sites or phishing sites in an attempt to steal their personal information by tricking them into believing they have won a contest.
Some Malicious Camera/Photo Apps
Pro Camera Beauty – Cartoon Art Photo – Artistic effect Filter – Art Editor – Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera Pro – Pixture – Art Effect – Photo Art Effect – Cartoon Photo Filter – Art Effect – Photo Editor – Wallpapers HD – Art Filter – Cartoon Art Photo – Prizma Photo Effect
However , instead of displaying the final edited image , the applications served user with a fake page which led to phishing .
Trend Micro Researchers Stated
The authors can collect the photos uploaded in the app, and possibly use them for malicious purposes — for example as fake profile pics in social media
In addition, these apps attempt to hide their malicious activities , some of this applications used various methods , including hiding the app icon from the launcher screen . which would make it impossible for regular users to spot and uninstall the malicious applications .
Altogether, Google removed them from the play store. However , this will not prevent malicious applications from sneaking in the App stores in the future .
How to be safe ?
- In any event , never download apps from untrusted sources.
- Likewise , never install applications before checking their permissions.
- Furthermore , never give excess permissions to applications apart from the default ones.
- In addition, always keep an up-to date Antivirus solution in your smartphone.