The proliferation of smartphones has transformed our world in a multitude of ways, and most of them are generally for the better.
However, there is one huge downside to smartphones that keeps rearing its ugly head from time to time…
Truth be told, smartphones are actually really small, but extremely powerful computing devices.
And like all computers, they run programs (which we commonly referr to as “apps”).
And just like the programs that run on laptops and desktop PCs, some of the smartphone apps that are available for download from the app stores are malicious in one or another.
Google is usually pretty quick to remove malicious apps from the Google Play Store once they become aware of them, but unfortunately there are always new ones slipping through the cracks and being added to the list of available downloads.
Even worse, some legitimate apps eventually go over to the dark side and morph into malicious apps, most often after the app has been sold or otherwise transferred to a new owner.
All of which brings me to this…
According to this very detailed post on the Kaspersky Security blog, several fairly popular Android apps have been caught spying on their users via a backdoor trojan called “PhantomLace”.
In a nutshell, Apps infected with PhantomLace steal the following info from your phone and transmit it back to the hackers over the Internet:
- Your Phone’s Call Logs
- Your List of Contacts
- Stored GPS Coordinates (i.e. where you have been)
- Your SMS Text Messages
- Technical data about your phone
As you can see, this is one nasty and incredibly intrusive piece of malware!
Although there are probably more apps infected with PhantomLace in the Google Play Store that are yet to be discovered and removed, here are the latest known culprits that you need to be aware of:
- Beer Address
- BiFin Ball
I strongly recommend that you check your Android phone right now to see if any of these apps are installed. If so, you should uninstall them immediately.
I also recommend that you occasionally do a Google News search on the name of each of your installed apps to see if any of them have morphed into malware since the day they were installed. If so, there will likely be multiple news stories about it.
Bottom line: Smartphones and the apps that run on them have transformed our lives in many wonderful ways.
However, all it takes is one malicious app to turn a great day into a bad one in a hurry. That’s why we need to constantly be on alert for the relatively few bad apples that are out there.
Bonus tip #1: Click here to read about several other dangerous scams and irritating hoaxes that are currently making the rounds.
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