Google Removes 17 Android Apps to Stop WAP Billing Fraud

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Earlier this week, Google removed 17 Android apps from the Google Play Store following the infection of the said programs with the Joker malware. According to the tech giant, the removal of mobile applications from the Android app store helps prevent wireless application protocol (WAP) billing fraud.

According to ZD Net, security researchers Zscaler initially spotted the apps infected with the Joker malware.

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The Joker malware works by worming its way through Google’s security defenses through a technique called “droppers,” states the Tech Times. Under this, the user’s device will be infected via a multi-stage approach, making it quite challenging for Google to address the problem.

Google Removes to Stop WAP Billing Fraud

This security concern stems from the malicious code not being detected by the device’s security system, especially as the attacks can take over in a few hours or days. After the Joker-infected app has been installed and downloaded, the program will “drop” other apps that contain the malware or virus strains.

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In a statement, Viral Gandhi from Zscaler said, “This spyware is designed to steam SMS messages, contact lists, device information, along with silently signing up the victim for premium wireless application protocol (WAP) services.”

Joker (Bread) malware has been the bane of the Google Play Store’s existence, notes ZD Net. Prior to this data security incident, the infection has reportedly taken over a number of Google-based apps in the past few months.

The Tech Times states that this malware has been considered a notorious attack by the people at Google not only because of its persistent reoccurrence but also because it can be uploaded by different third-party App stores.

The first incident concerning the Joker-infected apps reportedly took place in July of 2020, with the tech giant tasked to remove its first batch of mobile applications. For this incident, the said vulnerabilities were discovered by Anquanke security researchers, reports ZD Net.

After the July 2020 incident, Google also encountered another Joker malware-related vulnerability earlier this September. The team from Pradeo reported the infections to the tech giant and six more apps have been removed.

Among the latest mobile apps removed by the tech giant include the following: All Good PDF Scanner, Blue Scanner, Care Message, Desire Translate, Direct Messenger, Hummingbird PDF Converter – Photo to PDF, Meticulous Scanner, Mint Leaf Message – Your Private Message, One Sentence Translator – Multifunctional Translator, Paper Doc Scanner, Part Message, Private SMS, All Good PDF Scanner, Style Photo Collage, Talent Photo Editor – Blur Focus, Tangram App Lock, and Unique Keyboard – Fancy Fonts & Free Emoticons.

As of writing, Google has removed more than 1,700 Joker-infected apps from the Play Store since 2017.

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