The computer security company Kaspersky has discovered that more than 190 applications available in the Play Store, with approximately 4.8 million downloads, hide Harly malware. This Trojan subscribed the users of the infected devices to unwanted paid services.
According to the researchers, the apps ranged from some that served as flashlights to mini-games and have appeared in the official Google application store over the last two years. During this time, Kaspersky estimates that almost 5 million users downloaded the platforms on their electronic devices.
“Once the user opens the application, the Trojan begins to collect information about their device and their mobile network,” says the cybersecurity company in a press release. “The user’s phone switches to a mobile network, and then the Trojan requests to the C&C server to set up the list of subscriptions to sign up for”.
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From there, the malware can open the subscription address in a hidden window for the user and provide the phone number, even entering the confirmation code. In this way, scammers manage to enroll their victims in payment services without raising suspicion.
Tatyana Shishkova, a security expert at Kaspersky, stresses that “although the official stores are carefully watched, moderators cannot always detect these applications before they are published.” When applications deliver what they promise, it is easier to hide computer viruses. Therefore, it is important to install a reliable antivirus that detects when something is wrong.