The latest investigation from CyberNews has uncovered a secret network of 27 app developers who have created 103 apps with over 69m installs which share many of the same characteristics and often times even the same code.
The developers behind these apps are copying each others' apps, moving apps between developers, outright stealing apps from other more popular developers outside their network and possibly even committing fraud right under Google's nose.
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The business model for this secret network appears to involve rapidly copying other apps, changing small visual aspects to make each app appear more unique and launching them under various developers' names. CyberNews estimates that the revenue for these apps could be nearly $1m per month.
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Additionally, all of these apps request access from a number of device permissions such as modifying or deleting USB storage, turning a device's microphone on and off, accessing a user's camera and pictures, modifying system settings and more. All of these app permissions have next to nothing to do with each app's core function which immediately raises suspicions.
Senior researcher at CyberNews, Bernard Meyer provided further insight on just how dangerous these apps can be, saying:
“In the best case scenario, these apps may provide users with a very poor user experience, especially when the apps are flooded with ads at every turn. In the worst case scenario, these apps can later become vehicles for malicious purposes, including stolen data or other malware.”
You can check out CyberNews' full report on the matter to see if you have any of these suspicious apps installed on your device and if so, you should delete them immediately or risk having your data stolen by the group of developers behind them.
- Keep your devices protected with the best antivirus software
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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.