Could your phone be infected with a dangerous virus?
Android smartphone users have been urged to delete eight apps that can infect devices with 'Joker' malware.
First spotted in 2019, the Joker virus is a type of malware known as spyware. It can unwittingly sign you up to expensive subscriptions as well as accessing your texts, data and contacts.
Currently, only Android devices are affected as the infected apps are not available on Apple’s app store, which is more regulated than the Google Play store.
The infected apps in question are:
- Auxiliary Message
- Element Scanner
- Fast Magic SMS
- Free CamScanner
- Go Messages
- Super Message
- Great SMS
- Travel Wallpapers
Google has now removed the apps from its app store. But if you’ve already downloaded any of the apps onto your smartphone, it’s important you delete them immediately.
This is not the first time Joker has been found to have infected smartphones. It was first identified back in 2019, and it seems the creators of the malware have now snuck it back into app stores.
Previous victims reported charges of up to £240 were made on their phones as a result of to Joker malware.
The reemergence of the malware has led to authorities and cybersecurity firms to issue warnings. Belgian police said: "Warning! The Joker virus is back in the Android environment.
"This malware has been spotted in 8 apps from the Play Store which have meanwhile been withdrawn by Google, but if you have already installed one, remove it as soon as possible."
And security experts Zimperium told The Mirror: "Joker trojans are malicious Android applications that have been known since 2017 for notoriously performing bill fraud and subscribing users to premium services.
"The outcome of a successful mobile infection is financial gain for the cybercriminal, oftentimes under the nose of the victim until long after the money is gone, with little to no recourse for recovery."
To ensure you keep your digital self safe, you should follow a few tips regarding apps:
- Only download apps from reputable app stores like the Google Play Store and the Apple app store
- Never download apps from links you’ve been sent via social media or messaging platforms
- Turn off the ‘installation from the unknown source’ option on your Android smartphone
- Make sure you read service agreements and any pop-up permissions before accepting their features
Check out our useful guide for more info on staying protected from scams and malware