If you’ve got any of these apps installed on your phone, you should delete them right away.
35 malicious apps on the Play Store with more than two million downloads combined are attempting to steal personal information and showing unwanted ads, according to security research firm Bitdefender.
The apps are spread across a range of popular categories, from GPS apps to photo filters to wallpapers. They’ve all racked up tens or even hundreds of thousands of downloads each, and use a number of sneaky tactics to avoid being identified. If you have any of them on your phone, you should uninstall them now.
Android Malware Apps
According to a blog post by Bitdefender, the apps “hide their presence on the device by renaming themselves and changing their icon, then start serving aggressive ads”. While ads are hardly uncommon among Android apps, these particular apps use their own framework to serve them, which means they could also serve malware to users.
Some of the apps may conceal their presence by changing their name and app icon after they have been installed. One example Bitdefender draws attention to is the app GPS Location, which changes its name to “Settings” in an attempt to make it harder to find. Others may not show up in your Recently Used apps list, so you might not even know they’re running.
Here’s the list of apps to look out for. They’re all available through the Play Store, and you can uninstall them in the usual way:
- Walls light – Wallpapers Pack
- Big Emoji – Keyboard
- Grad Wallpapers – 3D Backdrops
- Engine Wallpapers – Live & 3D
- Stock Wallpapers – 4K & HD
- EffectMania – Photo Editor
- Art Filter – Deep Photoeffect
- Fast Emoji Keyboard
- Create Sticker for Whatsapp
- Math Solver – Camera Helper
- Photopix Effects – Art Filter
- Led Theme – Colorful Keyboard
- Keyboard – Fun Emoji, Sticker
- Smart Wifi
- My GPS Location
- Image Warp Camera
- Art Girls Wallpaper HD
- Cat Simulator
- Smart QR Creator
- Colorize Old Photo
- GPS Location Finder
- Girls Art Wallpaper
- Smart QR Scanner
- GPS Location Maps
- Volume Control
- Secret Horoscope
- Smart GPS Location
- Animated Sticker Master
- Personality Charging Show
- Sleep Sounds
- QR Creator
- Media Volume Slider
- Secret Astrology
- Colorize Photos
- Phi 4K Wallpaper – Anime HD
For tips on how to minimize your risk of malware, take a look at our guides on how to remove permissions from apps you no longer use, and what to do if you start seeing pop-up ads on Android.
How to Avoid Malware on Android
There are many things you can do to avoid being affected by malicious apps. For example, check for any red flags before you download—many of the apps here have large numbers of downloads and no reviews. Also, be wary of apps that request too many permissions, especially the more intrusive permissions like the ability to draw over other apps.
On the whole, the Play Store is pretty good at keeping out malware. But things do occasionally creep through, so it’s important to remain vigilant.