Google Banned 18 Android Apps Downloaded Millions of Times for Blackmail

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Google has removed 18 apps from the Google Play Store after uncovering a network of malicious software used to harass and blackmail users. The apps, disguised as legitimate loan services, were downloaded over 12 million times before their removal.

Key Highlights:

  • 18 Android apps disguised as loan services were removed from the Google Play Store.
  • The apps were downloaded over 12 million times and used to steal data and blackmail users.
  • Researchers discovered the apps were part of a network used to harass and extort money from victims.

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Security researchers at ESET discovered the apps, which used various tactics to exploit and extort money from vulnerable users. Once downloaded, the apps would request access to sensitive information, such as contacts and photos. This information was then used to blackmail users, with threats of exposing the data to family and friends.

The apps also employed aggressive tactics to extort money from victims, including adding exorbitant interest rates and fees to loans. In some cases, the apps would even threaten to report users to the police if they did not repay their loans.

Millions of Users Affected

The 18 apps were downloaded over 12 million times, suggesting that millions of users were potentially at risk. Google has since removed the apps from the Play Store and is urging users who have downloaded them to uninstall them immediately.

Protecting Yourself from Malicious Apps

There are several steps that users can take to protect themselves from malicious apps like these:

  • Only download apps from trusted sources. The Google Play Store is a relatively safe place to download apps, but it’s still important to be cautious. Only download apps from reputable developers and read reviews before installing them.
  • Be careful about the permissions you grant to apps. Apps should only request the permissions they need to function properly. Be wary of apps that request access to sensitive information, such as your contacts or photos.
  • Keep your software up to date. Updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors.
  • Use a security app. A good security app can help to protect you from malware and other threats.

Google’s Response

Google has stated that they are committed to keeping the Play Store safe for users. They have removed the 18 malicious apps and are taking steps to improve their app review process. However, it’s important to remember that no system is perfect. Users should always be vigilant and take steps to protect themselves.

The discovery of these malicious apps highlights the importance of being careful about the apps you download. By following the tips above, you can help to protect yourself from malware and other threats.

About the author


Jamie Davidson

Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Vast Conference, a meeting solution providing HD-audio, video conferencing with screen sharing, and a mobile app to easily and reliably get work done."