Android alert - Popular Google Play Store apps have a terrifying secret, are you affected?

Android fans have been warned that popular Google Play Store apps downloaded millions of times are hiding a terrifying secret.

Android is one of the most used pieces of software in the world, with over two billion devices running the Google mobile OS each and every month.

However Android users are no strangers to security alerts, with some recent widespread threats being circulated via apps found on the Google Play Store.

Six Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware.

While another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30million Android devices.

And now Android users are being warned once again about apps housed on the Google Play Store.

Security experts at Avast are warning Android users after they analysed innocuous looking flashlight apps from the Google Play Store.

And they discovered that these seemingly harmless apps ask for a staggering amount of permissions.

In total 937 flashlight apps found on the Google Play Store were analysed.

Avast found that 408 of these apps needed just 10 permissions or less, which researchers noted seemed “fairly reasonable”.

However, there were 262 apps that required between 50 and 77 permissions.

Avast compiled a list of the 10 flashlight apps which required the most amount of permissions.

And four of these were downloaded more than a million times, two downloaded over 500,000 times and the rest with over 100,000 installs.

In a post online Avast security evangelist Luis Corrons went into detail about the type of permissions these apps asked for.

Corrons noted among the permissions requested were the right to record audio, read contact lists or even write contacts.

Corrons added: “Taking a close look at some of these, permissions like KILL_BACKGROUND_PROCESSES, are very powerful and can be abused for malicious purposes, for example, it could be used to kill a security app.”

Looking at one app, Corrons noted that due to the permissions it requested it could…

• Make a phone call

• Read contacts

• Access device location

• Query contacts info, including pictures and phone numbers

Advising Android users on how to stay safe, Corrons said: “There is a big grey area when it comes to apps like these, which is why we do not mark them all as malicious.

“While they do request outlandish permissions, they do not carry out any malicious actions and they are asking users for these permissions.

“However, that doesn’t mean they are completely innocent or that third-parties aren’t harvesting data from users devices, but again, when a user installs an app, they grant the app and any third-parties associated with it, the right to carry out actions the app lists in the permissions section.

“It is therefore imperative that users carefully check the permissions an app requests, before installing the app.”

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