Removing Malicious Apps from Android

Over the past few weeks cyber researchers have discovered a number of apps in the Android Play Store that were infected with a form of Adware that had the nasty capability of hiding itself from the app list. The AdWare, which security firm Check Point calls “SimBad,” creates a backdoor and allows its creator to install additional programs including malware.

Checkpoint published a list of apps that are affected by this malware here
which includes the names, file names, and the number of installs for each of the infected apps.

I believe these apps have now been taken down from the Android Play Store, but if you already have them installed then you need to get rid of them immediately. This might be a problem since these apps hide their icon in the app tray and replace it with a link. When you remove the link, using the normal method for removing an app, the actual app remains.

You can go to the Play Store and access the page for the app and uninstall it from there. You can go to the ‘My Apps and Games’ section and then the ‘Installed’ tab where you will find a list of all apps you have installed on your device. There will be an option to uninstall the app.

An alternative way to remove these apps is to restart your phone into ‘Safe Mode’. The method for doing this may vary by the manufacturer, but the stock way is to long-press the on-screen “Power Off” option that appears when you push the physical power button (support from Google on this can be found here). Once in Safe Mode, you can navigate to your settings app and look for any of the referenced apps and de-install them from there. While you are there, it is best to take a look for anything else you might think is not something you installed, but be careful as t=you could de-install something your phone may rely on.

A bit more technical information on this can be found on Bleeping Computer.

It is actually good practice to exercise good device hygiene and periodically review what apps you have installed on your device (applies to Android, Apple/IOS, Windows, Mac, etc.) and determine if you really need that app. I have a personal policy that if I haven’t used the app in recent memory, then it is time for it to go. Apps can be running in the background and use both your data and battery.

Headline Photo by Pathum Danthanarayana on Unsplash

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