Urgent warning over ‘app hijackings’

·2-min read
Hacker performing cyber attack on laptop
Urgent warnings are in place for Android users after a string of app hijackings. Picture: iStock

Phone users all over Australia are being warned over a string of app hijackings spreading malicious viruses.

Three viruses are in circulation – related to 19 apps on android devices – designed to steal private information and sign users up to premium services.

Android phones are being targeted in the attacks, with one malware strain being downloaded more than three million times already because it is an open sourced operating system, meaning it can run any third-party app.

The operating system makes devices open to cyber attacks with the malware hidden in otherwise safe-looking apps.

Cyberattack and internet crime, hacking and malware concepts. Digital binary code data numbers and secure lock icons on hacker' hands working with keyboard computer on dark blue tone background.
New warnings have been issued to Android users. Picture: iStock

MalwareFox said cyber criminals can download apps from the Google Play store and manipulated them.

“Cyber criminals download ordinary apps from Google Play, add malicious code to them, and then submit the modified versions to Google Play with a new name,” MalwareFox said in a statement.

“The functionality indicated in the description of the apps may still be present, thus users may not even be aware that a vulnerability exists.”

Cyber protection company MalwareFox has shared a list of viruses already circulating, as well as the apps containing them.

It said GinMaster, which also goes by GingerMaster, was first detected in 2011, but now makes up 6 per cent of the total Android malware attacks.

“After entering the device, the GinMaster installs its root shell deep into the device partition to remain undetected.”

The malware attaches itself to “legitimate” apps, and users install it unintentionally.

Cyber criminal
The apps containing malware leave data open for cybercriminals. Picture: Supplied

Other harmful spyware to look out for includes:

Joker Spyware

This aptly named spyware gathers data from contact lists and text messages and can go onto register the device for premium content with the user’s knowledge.

It can be found in the following apps:

– Simple Note Scanner

– Universal PDF Scanner

– Private Messenger

– Premium SMS

– Blood Pressure Checker

– Cool Keyboard

– Paint Art

– Color Message

Harly Trojan

The malware can also sign users up for services which monetises the infection.

It can be found in:

– Fare Gamehub and Box

– Hope Camera-Picture Record

– Same Launcher and Live Wallpaper

– Amazing Wallpaper

– Cool Emoji Editor and Sticker

Anyone with concerns can view the full list of malware here.