There’s no denying the fact that people love taking selfies with their smartphones and posting them on twenty different social networks. In fact, this ever-growing popularity of this fad has led to OEMs launching mobile devices with high-resolution front-facing camera modules and a variety of integrated ‘beautification’ features. And for others, there are thousands of beautification apps to choose from, which allow users to do everything from brightening up their skin tone to smoothing up their facial features. However, next time you decide to download (and use) one of these apps, you ought to be extra careful, since not all of them are what they claim to be.
According to a report by Android Police, security firm Trend Micro has identified twenty-nine such beautification apps that actually phish users’ data and steal their private photos. While these malicious apps have been removed by Google from the Play Store, they’ve already racked up millions of (combined) downloads. When installed, some of these apps throw full-screen advertisements related to fake (and even pornographic) content, every time the device is unlocked. Other apps direct users to phishing websites developed with the aim of tricking users into giving away their personal information.
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As noted by Android Police, the apps are listed on Android security bulletin as ‘AndroidOS_BadCamera.HRX’. They even look quite ‘real’ when downloaded. It was revealed by Trend Micro that one of the apps identified by the – ‘com.beauty.camera.project.cloud’ creates a shortcut when launched and even hides its icon from the app drawer, making it quite difficult for (especially beginner) users to uninstall it from their smartphones. These apps use clever tactics to evade Android’s built-in security measures (e.g. Google Play Protect), and many have lots of (fake) reviews.