Google: list of mobile phone apps banned over scam, Jocker bug explained - how to avoid these apps

A number of apps have been removed from Google Play

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Google has banned three dangerous rip-off mobile phone apps as part of a crackdown on scammers.

The apps attempt to scam users out of money by mimicking genuine apps.

However, they are actually riddled with trojan horses that can hijack your information or begin paid subscriptions without being asked by the user.

One of them has a bug called Jocker, which can avoid Google’s security detection.

What apps have the Jocker bug?

The dangerous bug has been found on three apps: Style Message, Blood Pressure App and Camera PDF Scanner.

Others, however, have also been mimicked to gain the user’s trust, including GameBeyond, Tubemate, Minecraft, GTA5 and Vidmate.

Apps which have trojans built into them are regularly removed from the store but criminals quickly replace them and imitate popular brands and names.

Cyber crooks download real apps and add malicious code before reuploading to the app store under a pseudonym, experts say.

Once the app is on your phone, it will try to access text messages and other notifications to gather information.

Victims of Jocker were mainly in Saudi Arabia (21.20%), Poland (8.98%) and Germany (6.01%).

What has been said?

Igor Golovin from Kaspersky said: “Most of the apps completely lack any legitimate functionality.

“They begin subscribing straight after they’re launched, while the user sees a loading window.

“They usually pay for legitimate services in a user’s name and scammers take a cut from the money billed.

“These types of subscription fees tend to be fleeced from the phone balance.”

How to avoid getting bugs on your phone? 

Experts say to be wary of downloading apps from unofficial sources and be careful of some apps on Google Play.

Mr Golovin said: “Read the reviews, read up on the developer, the terms of use and payment.

“For messaging choose a well-known app with positive reviews.

“Even if you trust an app, you should avoid granting it too many permissions.

“Only allow access to notifications for apps that need it to perform their intended purposes — for example, to transfer notifications to wearable devices.

“Apps for something like themed wallpapers or photo editing don’t need access to your notifications.”

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