Android beauty apps could give your phone a black eye

Phone malware
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You may want to think twice before downloading a beauty camera app onto your Android smartphone as new research from the Lithuanian security research group CyberNews has revealed that many of these apps are much more dangerous than they appear to be.

To conduct their research, the group analyzed the top 30 results displayed on the Google Play Store after searching for the keyword “beauty camera” to determine the amount of permissions they requested, the location of the app developers and the transparency of this location as well as any history of malware, spyware vulnerabilities or unethical practices.

Upon further investigation, CyberNews found that many of these apps are scraping and selling user data, serving users with malicious ads, redirecting users to phishing sites and even spying on users directly.

Beauty apps

CyberNews discovered that the number one beauty camera app, BeautyPlus – Easy Photo Editor & Selfie Camera, was identified as being either malware or spyware, despite having 300m installs. The app's developer, Meitu, has also been suspected of collecting user data in its Chinese servers and then selling it.

However, this app isn't the only offender as the app developer iJoySoft was found to use malicious adware in its apps. Additionally, the developer behind the app Beauty Makeup, Selife Camera Effects, Photo Editor, Lyrebird Studio was identified by Trend Micro for sending users adult content, redirecting them to phishing sites and collecting their pictures.

Another app called Beauty Camera by Phila AppStore was even discovered to be using a smartphone's camera without asking for the necessary permissions which is against Play Store rules. This app alone has already been installed half a million times.

To prevent having your data stolen or the camera on your device used without your permission, it is recommended that users avoid downloading any of these non-essential beauty camera apps.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.