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50 privacy groups ask Sundar Pichai to safeguard Android users

14 January 2020

At least one series of such malicious apps did manage to get into the Play Store as discovered by CSIS Security Group security researchers who found 24 apps with over 472,000 downloads in total during September 2019.

The Joker malware's creators were continually forced to change tactics to search for gaps in the Play Store's defenses as Google introduced new policies and Google Play Protect scaled defenses. With many bloatware programs languishing on old versions, they present a serious security problem, with users unable to remedy any vulnerabilities.

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Since the name and the character has a huge following, it did not take long for the Android users to check the Joker app out, only to find out later that it is nothing more than a phishing malware. Google reports also record when exactly bread-infected applications have been made to the system. They have at some point used just about every cloaking and obfuscation technique under the sun in an attempt to go undetected.

Just to put things into perspective, while the 2018 yearly review does not provide the exact number of removed malicious apps, the 2017 one said that the company "took down more than 700,000 apps that violated the Google Play policies, 70% more than the apps taken down in 2016". Some of the Joker apps specifically checked by the Google researchers - interestingly - found out to be hinting the users on the inclusion of malicious codes later. Then, through app updates, they add the risky components to the app and, therefore, people's mobile devices. Having fallen out of Google's security system in the past, bread has been using fake reviews to reinforce the reputation of the app and cancel out the effects of negative reviews. Most of these fraud apps resemble the popular ones in Playstore, letting users believe they're worth and trustable. Regardless, it was still about financial fraud. Initial versions of their infected applications focus on SMS fraud. Under SMS billing fraud, carriers partner with vendors to allow users to pay for services via SMS. After all, I always knew this was suspicious. This technique, as well as SMS, is desirable to cybernetic criminals such as Bread. As expected, Google came back stronger and imposed stricter regulations for Android apps. Bread, however, simply changed strategies, switching to WAP fraud. The payment is automatically charged to a phone bill. Mainly because the billing only requires device verification, and not verification from the actual user themselves, companies can not tell the difference between an average user and a member of Bread. The persistence of these people has proven that they do indeed benefit from these crimes.

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All we have to remember here is that if they are not giving up, neither are we.

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50 privacy groups ask Sundar Pichai to safeguard Android users