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Fake Android app sparks personal privacy warning

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What appeared like a harmless, easy-to-use messaging service for Android users proved to have a dark ulterior motive.

Taking the phone numbers of all who downloaded it and allowing others to “rent” them to be used on an account creation service.

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Read on to find what it is advisable learn about a fake Android app, and easy methods to protect yourself against malware.
(Reuters, File)

Thankfully, because of an intrepid security researcher, the app has been successfully shut down.

Caught ‘Read’ Handed

The Symoo app billed itself on Google Play as “JustSms is straightforward to make use of SMS application.”

While the shockingly poor grammar must have been a serious red flag to start with, the app in some way managed to draw over 100,000 downloads, and earn a rating of three.4 on Google Play.

Though not all of the reviews were raves.

Indeed, loads of users immediately noticed that something was off, reporting how the app asked for a one-time password upon installation and appeared to be hijacking their phones.

These red flags also caught the eye of Maxime Ingrao, a French security researcher currently employed on the cybersecurity company Evina.

Upon learning of the Malware attached to the app, Ingrao shared exactly what Symoo did on his Twitter page.

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Screenshot of Maxime Ingrao sharing that Evina, a cybersecurity company, has malware attached to its app.

Screenshot of Maxime Ingrao sharing that Evina, a cybersecurity company, has malware attached to its app.
(Fox News)

Accompanied by screenshots, Ingrao explained how Symoo read and sent all messages on to a server specifically designed to sell “account creations”, allowing people to make use of phone numbers to confirm they’re real, after which used the phones infected by the service to authenticate these fake accounts through messages.  Ingrao went on to indicate how Symoo was the No. 1 latest SMS app in India, where over 100,000 people fell victim to it.

How exactly did it work?

Ingrao went on to elucidate that Symoo first took people’s information by asking for the user’s phone number on the login page.

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Screenshot from Maxime Ingrao, a French security researcher, explaining what the app was covering up.

Screenshot from Maxime Ingrao, a French security researcher, explaining what the app was covering up.
(Fox News)

While the subsequent screen made it appear to users that the applying was loading, it was all a cover-up, hiding the interface of their number being sent to varied subscription services.

Once the app finished loading, it will freeze, prompting users to delete the app.

Nevertheless, their phone numbers had already been apprehended by then, and the user’s phone numbers were used to create fake accounts on quite a few platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

Ingrao then shared that he was capable of track the malware back to a website called “goomy[dot]fun”, a website utilized by an app called Virtual Numbers.

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Screenshot from a French researcher showing how he was able to trace back malware to a particular app.

Screenshot from a French researcher showing how he was capable of trace back malware to a selected app.
(Fox News)

Virtual Numbers happened to be created by the identical developers of Activation PW, an internet site offering users numbers from greater than 200 countries they’ll use to create fake accounts.

In accordance with Bleeping Computer, users could rent a number for as little as 50 cents to confirm a fake account.

Thankfully, a Google spokesperson later confirmed to Bleeping computers that each Symoo and Activation PW have been faraway from Google Play, and the developer has been banned.

Be Careful What You Download

It is simple to get carried away and download any app that looks like something you’d enjoy.

Then too, if it’s available on Google Play, it should be protected, right?

Unfortunately, as seen above, that won’t a guarantee.  Rouge unsafe apps have often found their way onto Google Play app store before being removed long after compromising 1000’s of individuals.

Thankfully with these commonsense suggestions, it is not too difficult to discern which apps one should probably avoid.

Check the rating.

If a lot of the rankings for the app sit at two stars or less, and users appear to be struggling to search out anything good to say about it, then it’s likely one to avoid downloading.

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Make Sure your software is up-to-date.

Luckily, certain malware is not capable of function on the newest software, so all the time ensure that your devices, be it an iPhone, Android, in addition to your browser, are updated on a reasonably regular basis.

Download an Antivirus App.

Installing antivirus software in your devices is one of the vital surefire ways of ensuring you will be protected against malware and phishing scams.

With its easy setup, real-time anti-malware protection, and excellent customer support, TotalAV is one of the vital reliable Antivirus services available today.  You’ll be able to read my Best Antivirus Reviews of the highest protection for PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices by searching ‘Best Antivirus’ at CyberGuy.com.

Never download any app from a link sent to you

An important tip is to avoid linking from social media, a text or email to download any apps from a source apart from the official Google Play store and Apple App Store.

If you’ve got even the tiniest iota of doubt in regards to the safety of an app, all the time best to go together with your instincts and leave it off your phone.

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Copyright 2023 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved. CyberGuy.com articles and content may contain affiliate links that earn a commission when purchases are made.

Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life higher along with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business starting mornings on “FOX & Friends.” Got a tech query? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy Newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or comment at CyberGuy.com.

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