Uninstall these dangerous Android apps now – they could be stealing your data

The latest investigation from CyberNews has uncovered a secret network of 27 app developers who have created 103 apps with over 69m installs which share many of the same characteristics and often times even the same code.

The developers behind these apps are copying each others’ apps, moving apps between developers, outright stealing apps from other more popular developers outside their network and possibly even committing fraud right under Google’s nose.

The apps from this secret network all have two-part Western names, ask for a large number of dangerous permissions, all share the same Privacy Policy (where only the developer’s name is changed), are visually similar and all link to the same incomplete website on their Google Play Store pages.

The business model for this secret network appears to involve rapidly copying other apps, changing small visual aspects to make each app appear more unique and launching them under various developers’ names. CyberNews estimates that the revenue for these apps could be nearly $1m per month.

Dangerous Android apps

These apps could potentially be putting users’ data at risk as their identical privacy policy allows them to collect any information that identifies the user that “may be transmitted or received when you use an application” including users’ physical location, email addresses, unique device identifier (IMEI), billing or shipping information and information stored on their devices.

Additionally, all of these apps request access from a number of device permissions such as modifying or deleting USB storage, turning a device’s microphone on and off, accessing a user’s camera and pictures, modifying system settings and more. All of these app permissions have next to nothing to do with each app’s core function which immediately raises suspicions.

Senior researcher at CyberNews, Bernard Meyer provided further insight on just how dangerous these apps can be, saying:

“In the best case scenario, these apps may provide users with a very poor user experience, especially when the apps are flooded with ads at every turn. In the worst case scenario, these apps can later become vehicles for malicious purposes, including stolen data or other malware.”

You can check out CyberNews’ full report on the matter to see if you have any of these suspicious apps installed on your device and if so, you should delete them immediately or risk having your data stolen by the group of developers behind them.

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