Smartphone users have been warned by police about eight popular apps which have been corrupted by a dangerous virus.
The affected apps have been deleted by Google from its Play Store and Apple blocked them from its devices after finding evidence of “Joker” malware.
However, Android users are being told to delete them from their devices.
The malware was first identified in 2019, and is capable of wreaking havoc on phones it infects.
The malware has been found installing hidden spyware and premium diallers which can sign-up to expensive monthly subscriptions.
Previous victims have found they’ve been charged over £240 a year for fraudulent plans.
Security firm Zimperium said that it has seen over 1,000 new samples of Joker since it last reported on the problem back in 2020.
Researchers at cybersecurity company Quick Heal Security Lab have also revealed that the latest joker virus can gain access to text messages, contacts and a lot of other personal information on smartphones.
What applications have been affected?
- Auxiliary Message
- Element Scanner
- Fast Magic SMS
- Free CamScanner
- Go Messages
- Super Message
- Great SMS
- Travel Wallpapers
In a warning, police in Belgium said: "Warning! The Joker virus is back in the Android environment.
"This malware has been spotted in 8 apps from the Play Store which have meanwhile been withdrawn by Google, but if you have already installed one, remove it as soon as possible."
Security firm Zimperium is warning that cyber thieves have routinely found new and unique ways to get this malware into both official and unofficial app stores.
"Joker trojans are malicious Android applications that have been known since 2017 for notoriously performing bill fraud and subscribing users to premium services," explained Zimperium.
"The outcome of a successful mobile infection is financial gain for the cybercriminal, oftentimes under the nose of the victim until long after the money is gone, with little to no recourse for recovery."