Ensure you examine your phone for these widely-used apps that are transmitting pictures and other information to China

Despite being a trusted platform for Android app downloads, the Play Store occasionally falls victim to malicious apps sneaking into its marketplace. Recently, two suspicious apps called File Recovery & Data Recovery and File Manager were discovered on the Play Store.
An investigation by cybersecurity company Pradeo revealed that these apps, which appeared to be file management tools, were actually spyware capable of transmitting user information to servers located in China. Shockingly, these apps were downloaded by 1.5 million users.
The so-called File Recovery and Data Recovery app was downloaded over a million times, while File Manager had been installed by 500,000 users. Despite claiming to not collect any data from smartphones, Pradeo’s investigation proved otherwise, exposing the false nature of these assertions.

What’s equally concerning is that the apps claimed they wouldn’t delete any collected data, even upon user request, which goes against data protection laws.

Pradeo’s analysis uncovered the types of personal data these apps were collecting:

  • Contact information saved on the device
  • Email and social network contacts
  • Pictures, audio, and videos stored within the app
  • Real-time user location
  • Country code
  • Name of the network provider
  • Operating system version number (possibly to exploit vulnerabilities)
  • Device model
Most of this information has no relevance to file management or data recovery operations. Additionally, these apps collected user data without obtaining permission. To make matters worse, the apps concealed their home screen icons, making it difficult for users to uninstall them. These apps transmitted data over a hundred times, which is alarmingly excessive.

As malicious apps often rely on user input for successful attacks,  and File Manager employ a unique tactic where the victim’s device restarts, and the apps launch in the background.

According to a recent report from Bleeping Computer, these apps were only recently removed from the Google Play Store. If you have these apps on your phone, it is crucial to delete them immediately. If you cannot find them on your home screen, access the app list in your phone’s settings to remove them.

 

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