Android phone and tablet users are being told to delete 15 apps found in the Google Play store after a security alert.
Security experts Sophos have warned that the apps contain malicious software that is able to hide in your device.
Some of the apps are able to disguise themselves to harmless system tools to avoid detection and deletion.
One of the apps on the list, Flash On Calls and Messages, shows a fake error message when launched which says it’s incompatible with the device in question.
It then takes you to Google Maps in the Play Store while hiding itself within your phone or tablet.
Other apps on the list change their app icon picture to make them appear to be harmless and essential apps. Some of the names used were said to be “Google Play Store”, “Update”, “Back Up” and “Time Zone Service”.
Although each app’s disguise methods can make them harder to find, Sophos has offered advice to users wanting to uninstall them immediately, reports The Express.
The apps in question are:
• Flash On Calls and Messages
• Read QR Code
• Imagine Magic
• Generate Elves
• QR Artifact
• Find Your Phone : Whistle
• Scavenger – – – speed guard
• Auto Cut Out Pro
• Background Cut Out
• Photo Background
• Background Cut Out New
• Auto Cut Out
• Auto Cut Out 2019
Speaking to Tech Radar a spokesman for Sophos said: “If you suspect that an app you recently installed is hiding its icon in the app tray, tap Settings (the gear menu) and then Apps and Notifications. The most recently opened apps appear in a list at the top of this page.
“If any of those apps use the generic Android icon (which looks like a little greenish-blue Android silhouette) and have generic-sounding names (‘Back Up,’ ‘Update,’ ‘Time Zone Service’) tap the generic icon and then tap ‘Force Stop’ followed by ‘Uninstall.’
“A real system app will have a button named ‘Disable’ instead of ‘Uninstall’ and you don’t need to bother disabling it.”
All of the apps mentioned have been removed from the Google Play Store, but they will still be on more than one million devices and Sophos has warned other available programmes could perform similar tactics when downloaded.
The company says users should thoroughly check reviews for any new apps before downloading from Google’s marketplace to see if there are reports of strange activity.