Over a billion Google Play Store app downloads could be infected by malware

(Image credit: Shutterstock / ImYanis)

Banking apps for the Android ecosystem have more than a billion downloads between them, and according to a new report from the mobile security platform Zimperium, all of these at risk from dangerous trojans.

The company analyzed more than 600 financial apps and 10 prolific banking trojan families targeting these apps, finding that the most targeted mobile banking application is the Spanish “BBVA Spain | Online Banking” app which has more than 10 million downloads. 

Apparently, of the 10 most prolific trojan malware out there, six are targeting this app.

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Mobile banking and crypto

In the United States, 121 financial apps, with more than 280 million downloads between them, are being targeted. The United Kingdom and Italy are the next most-targeted countries, it was said, with 55 and 43 apps targeted, respectively.

The report has also found that crooks aren’t that interested in “traditional” banking apps, as they prefer more modern technological solutions. That being said, apps that focus on mobile payments, or cryptocurrencies, are hugely popular. In fact, the top three mobile financial apps targeted by this type of malware manage alternative assets.

Teapot is the most active banking trojan of all, used against 410 applications, out of the 600 analyzed, while ExobotCompact.D, also known as Octo, was the oldest one, as it was originally discovered five years ago. 

“Not every trojan targeting mobile and banking apps is created equal – they’re disseminated differently, use different exploitation techniques, and vary in other degrees of reach and sophistication,” said Nico Chiaraviglio, VP of Security Research at Zimperium. “We’ve seen ad hoc reports of different banking trojans over the past few years, and anecdotally, people may have recognized that they’re increasing in scope and frequency.” 

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Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.