Cybersecurity experts have discovered multiple Android apps that are being used to hack smartphones and steal texts, pictures, and other personal data. The apps are all fake versions of legitimate popular apps such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Minecraft.
Back in September, hackers flooded the Google Play store with dozens of these fake apps. Google says they are scanning the Play Store regularly and removing these apps as quickly as possible, but for many people, the damage has already been done.
Hackers have used the fake apps to steal text messages, pictures, emails, and countless other personal items. The apps can also be used to track the location of the user, opening up some scary possibilities.
In a demonstration for ABC News, security experts even took pictures and video of the smartphone users by activating their phone camera through the malicious fake app - without the user ever noticing.
Cybersecurity expert James Lynn explained that these apps are so dangerous because smartphone users "don't realize they're fake." To make matters worse, even if a user discovers the fake app and deletes it, the hackers will still have access to their phone. The only way to secure a phone that has been hacked this way is to delete the app, backup your phone, and wipe the device and restore it to factory settings. You should then change all your passwords - from banking to email and social media.
The best way to prevent this type of hack is to only download apps from trusted developers.
When you search for an app in the Google Play store, check two things: the developer, and number of reviews. The developer should always be a trusted company. If you don't recognize the name, don't download it. As always, better safe than sorry. You can also check the number of reviews on the app. If it's an extremely high number (as in the example below), chances are it's the legitimate version of the app.
You can see an example below showing the developer name and number of reviews.
As always, if you think you've been hacked or just have a question, feel free to call us! Our friendly team of experts is always happy to help answer your security questions at 478-289-6607. Have a great Tuesday!