Beware: Third-Party Android App Stores Flooded with Root Malware Threats

Posted on February 11, 2016 by .

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On the front of mobile device security, those running the Android operating system are in for an onslaught of malware threats if you so choose to download and install apps from third-party app stores. As it turns out, Android root malware is abundant on third-party app stores, according to Trend Micro.

Trend Micro uncovered about 1,163 Android apps packages to have malware called ANDROIDOS_LIBSKIN.A. The particular malware threat is one that obtains root access to an Android mobile device, which is the highest level of access you can get for the operating system. With root level access and privileges, the malware may perform any possible function it is programmed to carry out from loading annoying and malicious advertisements, to redirecting users to sites that collect your personal information.

From January 29, 2016, and February 1, 2016, the time frame of about four days, the apps containing the malicious ANDROIDOS_LIBSKIN.A component were downloaded across 169 countries. The marketplaces, all third party app provider locations, were called 9apps, Aptoide, Mobogenie, and mobile9. Jordan Pan, a mobile threats analyst with Trend Micro, said they have already informed the sites about the Android app malware but have not received any confirmation from their end.

“These secretly downloaded apps will then present themselves as ads luring users to download other apps from time to time,” Pan wrote. “It can also be used to collect user data.”

Use of the various popups on an infected Android device usually ends up redirecting and loading a site that may add additional malware that later collects personal data. What was found out about the apps is that many of them are masked as legitimate programs, ones that advertise popular games or utility apps that have proved to be useful. Little do most Android mobile device users know, the malware-laced apps hide their malicious functions underneath the played legitimacy of what the app initially offers.

“The popups lure users into clicking unwanted apps,” Pan wrote. “Clicking on the ads may not necessarily lead the user to the respective app or site.”

As most would suggest, Android mobile device users should always avoid third-party app stores and stick to the Google Play Store being their only outlet for downloading and installing apps.

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