Android warning: All the dangerous apps and scams around this year you need to AVOID

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Android warning: All the dangerous apps and scams around this year you need to AVOID 1

Well, what a year it has been for Android users. A real rollercoaster – with the highs of Android 10 and all the exciting new features and security improvements included as part of that free upgrade, followed by the devastating onslaught of malware and scams that have plagued the operating system. Millions have been put at risk due to sophisticated attacks lurking within the Google Play Store, fake apps found online, and other terrifying threats.

If you’re sat reading this wondering, “hang on, I don’t remember any of these warnings” – firstly, where have you been? And more importantly, it’s worth having a trawl through some of the apps on your Android-powered smartphone or table to ensure one of these dangerous scams isn’t residing on your device.

Thankfully, Google has been working hard to remove these threats as they’re discovered by security firms and enterprising users. But while that means nobody else will fall pray of the apps – more often than not built by cybercriminals to siphon-off your private information or make money by generating impressions for advertisements on your handset – those who already have fallen fowl will need to manually kill the software themselves.

That can be a problem in itself since one of these dangerous apps was capable of quietly reinstalling themselves onto your device after you’ve tried to purge them from your Android operating system. Downloaded 45,000 times in the last six months alone, the software – known as Xhelper – can hide itself on your handset to avoid detection. And even if you do manage to locate it on your smartphone and delete it, the nefarious app can reinstall itself without your permission. Worse yet, it seems to be spreading fast.

According to research by security firm Symantec, there was an average of 131 devices infected each and every day in November 2019, with an average of 2,400 devices persistently infected throughout the month. The malware appears to mostly affect users in India, United States of America, and Russia.

Suitably spooked? You should be, according to the research from Symantec.

The app has even been observed re-installing itself onto users’ smartphones after they uninstall it. Xhelper is designed to stay hidden by not appearing inside your Android smartphone’s launcher, so scrolling through the list of apps won’t help.

All this to say, it’s a really nasty piece of software.

However, there is some good news. For starters, Symantec hasn’t detected any instances of Xhelper originating from the Google Play Store. So, if you only download apps and games from the Google-operated digital marketplace, then you’re extremely unlikely to be infected by the dangerous app.

According to Symantec, its own anti-virus solution will identify Xhelper as “Android.Malapp”. Symantec, which owns Norton anti-virus, or similar anti-virus solutions will be able to strip-out the dangerous app for good.

That said, Android users should be wary of anti-virus apps and unfamiliar developers who promise to fix their malware issues as a number of these have been discovered to be elaborate hoaxes to infect your device. Yes, the very apps that you’re hoping will solve any problems with your handset are being used to make it much, much worse.

The report issued by security research firm VPNpro at the end of October claimed that, in total, these apps amassed a whopping 1.9 billion downloads. So why exactly are these apps so bad? Well, VPNpro said the programmes used permissions agreed to during its set-up process to collect and sell a user’s personal data. It also noted malware could be spread using these permissions, too.

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