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Delete these apps – they’re harvesting your data

Google has removed dozens of Android apps from its app store as they were harvesting user data. All of the apps were including a piece of software from a Panamanian developer that is linked to a US-based defense contractor.

The malicious software was found by AppCensus. They found the code inserted in eleven apps with over 60 million downloads between them. These include a couple of popular Muslim prayer apps, another for using your smartphone to control your PC, a QR scanner, and many more.

Usually, malicious code is disguised inside apps that don’t have much functionality of their own. That’s not the case here, with the Panamanian developer, Measurement Systems S. de R.L., paying developers of legit, functional apps to include their software.

That could be lucrative, earning up to $10,000 a month depending on the number of active users.

The trouble here is that code chunks like this are rarely audited properly. If the developers had done so, they would have found that the software sent all kinds of identifying data to a central server. It could also pick up the contents of the phone’s clipboard, and other private information.

It’s worth removing any of these apps from your device if you had them installed.

Google removed these Android apps from the Play Store

Google has removed all of these eleven apps from the Google Play Store. If you’ve got any of them installed, it’s time to delete them.

List courtesy of AppCensus.io

That’s a lot of installations for some shady software. Google told AppCensus that other Android apps also containing the Measurement Systems SDK have also been removed.

You might notice that some of the apps are already back in the Google Play Store, however. That’s because Google said that they would be readmitted if they removed the invasive software SDK.

As the apps can harvest passwords from the clipboard, it’s time to change your passwords for any account you’ve signed into on that device. That includes email, games, financial apps, and literally anything else.

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