Sneaky move that drains your battery
Android phone owners are being warned about 22 dodgy apps that drain your battery life - and could land you with a big phone bill.
The "click-fraud" apps pretend to be normal apps on the Google Play Store, but secretly perform criminal actions out of sight, reports The Sun.
Experts at security firm Sophos found 22 such apps that have been collectively downloaded more than 22 million times.
This includes one illicit flashlight app that had racked up 1 million downloads - before being yanked from Google's Play Store.
The apps create invisible ads, and trick advertisers into thinking you've clicked, to make money.
Sometimes the ads will even pretend you're clicking from an Apple device, in hopes of making more money.
The ads never actually appear for the user - which means they're not annoyed by them
Instead, the ads appear in a hidden browser window.
The malware then simulates a user interacting with the ad, tricking it into thinking the interaction was legitimate.
This means the people running the dodgy apps make more money.
It's also bad news for users.
"From the user's perspective, these apps drain their phone's battery and may cause data overawes as the apps are constantly running and communicating with servers in the background," researchers said.
But for normal users without technical knowledge, it would be very hard to spot something was amiss.
Warning signs would be increased data usage and fast-draining battery life - but pinning those to the dodgy apps would be hard.
This creates another big problem - user reviews.
Many of the apps had barely any negative comments, because users don't know anything is amiss. This means more people are likely to download the apps in future.
APPS YOU SHOULD DELETE
There are the apps you should uninstall right now:
• Sparkle FlashLight - com.sparkle.flashlight
• Snake Attack - com.mobilebt.snakefight
• Math Solver - com.mobilebt.mathsolver
• ShapeSorter - com.mobilebt.shapesorter
• Tak A Trip - com.takatrip.android
• Magnifeye - com.magnifeye.android
• Join Up - com.pesrepi.joinup
• Zombie Killer - com.pesrepi.zombiekiller
• Space Rocket - com.pesrepi.spacerocket
• Neon Pong - com.pesrepi.neonpong
• Just Flashlight - app.mobile.justflashlight
• Table Soccer - com.mobile.tablesoccer
• Cliff Diver - com.mobile.cliffdiver
• Box Stack - com.mobile.boxstack
• Jelly Slice - net.kanmobi.jellyslice
• AK Blackjack - com.maragona.akblackjack
• Colour Tiles - com.maragona.colortiles
• Animal Match - com.beacon.animalmatch
• Roulette Mania - com.beacon.roulettemania
• HexaFall - com.atry.hexafall
• HexaBlocks - com.atry.hexablocks
• PairZap - com.atry.pairzap
"The only effects a user might notice is that the apps would use a significantly greater amount of data, at all times, and consume the phone's battery power at a more rapid rate that the phone would otherwise require," researchers said.
"Because consumers would not be able to correlate these effects to the apps themselves, their Play Market reviews for these apps showed few negative comments."
Google removed the dodgy apps from the Play Store on the week of November 25.
But the apps can still operate if you've already got them installed, so we recommend deleting them now.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission