These 9 Android apps can take over your phone: What to do

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Antivirus maker Trend Micro has found nine Google Play store apps that carry adware and malware designed to take over your digital life in secret. In total, the nine apps have been installed more than 470,000 times. 

The culprits

As Ars Technica reports, most of the bad apps post as system optimizers or speed boosters. All have been removed from Google Play, Trend Micro says, but you'll want to delete any that may be on your phone.

Here is the list:

  • Shoot Clean-Junk Cleaner,Phone Booster,CPU Cooler (10,000+ installs)
  • Super Clean Lite- Booster, Clean&CPU Cooler (50,000+ installs)
  • Super Clean-Phone Booster,Junk Cleaner&CPU Cooler (100,000+ installs)
  • Quick Games-H5 Game Center (100,000+ installs)
  • Rocket Cleaner (100,000+ installs)
  • Rocket Cleaner Lite (10,000+ installs)
  • Speed Clean-Phone Booster,Junk Cleaner&App Manager (100,000+ cleans)
  • LinkWorldVPN (1,000+ installs)
  • H5 Gamebox (1,000+ installs)

What do they do?

The apps are designed to secretly turn your phone into a zombie to perform tasks for the benefit of the hackers and fraudsters who load them with adware and sometimes malware.

The apps do their dirty work by connecting to servers and downloading more than 3,000 malware variants. They can also log in to your Google and Facebook accounts, not to take over the accounts, but to perform tasks like displaying legitimate ads and simulating a click, running reward apps from ad networks, post fake reviews, and disabling Play Protect.

The last one is theoretically the most dangerous, as it allows other more malicious programs to be installed without detection.

Who is affected?

According to Trend Micro, the majority of infections have happened in Japan, with 48,557 detected cases. Taiwan, United States (with 2,497 cases), Israel, India and other countries have been affected too. The adware/malware campaign has been running since at least 2017.

What to do if you are affected by this?

Once infected, you can try using one of the best Android antivirus apps to get rid of them and all the malware that they may have put into your device. 

But having said that, the best course of action would be to completely erase your device and start anew. Also, don’t forget to check the list of connected apps in your Google and Facebook accounts.

As for Google, we can only hope they fix its broken Play Store protection system.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.