If you have an Android phone in your pocket you’d be wise not to ignore this latest and hugely concerning Google app alert
Anyone who uses Android needs to be on high alert after the discovery of a fresh batch of apps that are fully capable of committing online espionage. Once downloaded, the malicious software sets about installing a vicious remote access trojan (RAT) called VajraSpy which is fully capable of stealing things such as contacts, files, call logs, and SMS messages.
The security experts at ESET say this hugely concerning bug can also extract private WhatsApp messages, record phone calls, and even take pictures via the phone’s camera without the owner knowing.
12 Android apps were found to have VajraSpy trojan hidden inside and to make matters worse, six were fully available to install via the Play Store.
“ESET Research has discovered an espionage campaign using apps bundled with VajraSpy malware conducted, with a high level of confidence, by the Patchwork APT group,” said ESET’s Lukas Stefanko.
“Some apps were distributed via Google Play and also found, along with others, in the wild.”
Along with being available on the App Store, other Android owners are thought to have been tricked into downloading the software via romance scams with hackers convincing users to switch to trojanised chat applications.
Over 1,000 people may have been duped with most of those affected living in Pakistan. Although that may seem like a long way away, anyone can be targeted by scams and malware so be wary.
“Based on the available numbers, the malicious apps that used to be available on Google Play were downloaded more than 1,400 times,” ESET confirmed.
It’s now vital that all Andriod users take time to check out apps before they install them.
“Cybercriminals wield social engineering as a powerful weapon,” the ESET team added. “We strongly recommend against clicking any links to download an application that are sent in a chat conversation. It can be hard to stay immune to spurious romantic advances, but it pays off to always be vigilant.”