Malware alert: remove these 24 apps with more than 382M downloads

When we talk about malware, we usually understand that it is about applications that insert some type of virus to steal our data, hijack our phone or flood it with abusive advertising. However, there are also apps that navigate the delicate border between good and evil. We refer to all those apps that without being harmful at first glance they request more permits than necessary for purposes that are certainly difficult to justify.

This is precisely the case that a report prepared by the VPNPro group of experts has uncovered in recent days, detailing the null respect for privacy handled by 24 Android applications released by the Asian company Shenzhen Hawk.

Normally these types of malicious applications tend to be very little known, and although we think that we would never have one of these installed, the truth is that these 24 apps have more than 380 million downloads behind their backs. In addition, the company published the applications under the names of different developers, all in order to go unnoticed.

More permissions than are really necessary for its correct operation

While some of Shenzhen Hawk's apps were less cheeky than others, they all shared a common trait: they went overboard with the amount of permissions they asked the user for. To give us an idea, one of the antivirus requested access to the device's camera only to perform a simple system scan. Why does an antivirus need to access our camera? It is clear that you will not find any virus by activating the viewfinder of our lens ...

Zak Doffman of Forbes describes it like this: “Of the 24 apps listed in the report, six request access to the user's camera and two to the phone itself, meaning they can make calls. 15 of the apps can access the user's GPS location and read data from external storage, while 14 can collect and return the user's phone and network details. One of the applications can record audio on the device or on its own servers, and another can access a user's contacts.”

Once installed, applications can connect to a remote server controlled by its developers. By collecting data such as location and personal information of the user, the least risk we can face is that they sell all these records to marketing companies in order to show us personalized (in fact, “excessively” personalized) ads. In the worst case, these permissions would allow app owners to make premium calls, access web pages without our consent, or download additional malware onto the device.

List of applications that we should uninstall

Now that we've got a little clearer on what Shenzhen Hawk's shady apps do, let's take a look at their names. Be careful, because there are applications of all kinds: from VPN apps, launchers, browsers and multimedia applications of all kinds and fur.

  • Sound Recorder (100,000,000 installations)
  • Super Cleaner (100,000,000 installs)
  • Virus Cleaner 2019 (100,000,000 installs)
  • File Manager (50,000,000 installations)
  • Joy Launcher (10,000,000 installs)
  • Turbo Browser (10,000,000 installs)
  • Weather Forecast (10,000,000 installations)
  • Candy Selfie Camera (10,000,000 installations)
  • Hi VPN, Free VPN (10,000,000 installs)
  • Candy Gallery (10,000,000 installations)
  • Calendar Lite (5,000,000 installs)
  • Super Battery (5,000,000 installations)
  • Hi Security 2019 (5,000,000 installations)
  • Net Master (5,000,000 installations)
  • Puzzle Box (1,000,000 installations)
  • Private Browser (500,000 installs)
  • Hi VPN Pro (500,000 installs)
  • World Zoo (100,000 installations)
  • Word Crossy! (100,000 installations)
  • Soccer Pinball (10,000 installs)
  • Dig it (10,000 installs)
  • Laser Break (10,000 installations)
  • Music Roam (1,000 installs)
  • Word Crush (50 installs)

We can also detect these rogue apps by checking the developer's name. Tap Sky, mie-alcatel.support, ViewYeah Studio, Hawk App, Hi Security and Alcatel Innovation LabThey are all part of the same company, Shenzhen Hawk.

If you have any of these applications installed, get rid of them as soon as possible. Needless to say, as of today all of them have already been removed from the Google Play Store.

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