An software that spreads the Joker malware has been downloaded by more than 500,000 Android users from the Google Play store. The malware was discovered by Pradeo’s cybersecurity specialists, and Google has since deleted it from its official Android app store. More than 500,000 Android users had downloaded the “Color Message” app prior to its withdrawal.
Color Message, which was promoted as an app that let users customise their standard SMS messages, was actually a front for Joker, one of the most widespread types of Android malware. The malware, once installed, does three functions: it accesses users’ contact lists and provides the information to attackers, subscribes users to undesired paid premium services in order to steal money and commit billing fraud, and simulates clicks in order to make revenue from malicious adverts. There is proof, according to researchers, that stolen data being transmitted to servers located in Russia.
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Users who have complained about being charged for services they didn’t ask to access have apparently spotted the unauthorized behavior, according to negative reviews of the app on the Play Store. Google Play has policies in place to prevent the publication of harmful apps. But the rogue app’s creators were able to get around them. According to Roxane Suau of Pradeo, “Joker generates a highly modest footprint that can be tough to identify by utilising as little code as possible and properly disguising it.”
Users are recommended to remove Color Message right now if they downloaded it from the Google Play Store. Joker has reportedly been spotted in hundreds of apps over the past two years, according to Pradeo, but given how tenacious the people behind it are, it’s likely they’ll try to spread the malware once more. A spokeswoman for Google verified that the malicious app has been taken down from the Play Store when ZDNet contacted them for comment.