Google Play Store hosts ‘Charger’ Ransomware!

Google Play Store which hosts all android based free and premium apps are in news for all wrong reasons. The app store hosted by the internet juggernaut is said to be acting as a home for some sneaky ransomware.

Dubbed as a ‘Charger’, the said malicious software is said to be hidden in a Google Application named Energy Rescue. The app lures users in downloading it with promotional lines saying that it will help boost the downloaded user’s battery backups.

Check Point which cyber security products was the first software company to find ‘Charger’ hidden in one of the Google Play Store apps.

As per the review of the security experts from Check Point, once installed, Charger has the potential to steal SMS contacts and prompted users to grant it admin powers to their SMS, photos, videos and other critical info related to their mobile wallets.

As soon as the users click OK, the said malicious application locks the device from further access and displays the following lines-

“You need to immediately pay to us. Otherwise, the locked info will be made public within 30 minutes. The message further adds that they will surely return the unlocking key as soon as they receive the payment. And turning off the phone or resetting them as per factory norms will never work. The malware spreaders demanded 0.2 to 0.9 Bitcoin for unlocking the smartphone of users.”

Check Point researchers found that the app hidden inside Energy Rescue Google app was available for almost 1 week and succeeded in infecting around 1400 users.

However, they feel that the motive of the malware spreaders was just to test the waters and not to spread it yet. Meaning, something bigger is being planned and their initial tests have received great funding.

The best part in all this obnoxious activity is that most leading mobile security software like Norton, Kaspersky, AVG, Quick Heal, and McAfee are having the potential to identify this software.

Hence, Check Point survey confirmed that 75 users who used one of the above-said software succeeded in detecting this malicious activity in time and succeeded in quarantining before any further damage could be sustained.

In the year 2012, Google disclosed that it has a cloud-based scanner dubbed bouncer which scans all the applications for malware. Then after a 7-day review period, the applications are launched onto the Google Play Store.

Nowadays, Google hasn’t revealed much about the security points available in its Google Play Store from users and developers point of view.

Does this suggest that the web services giant is taking mobile security lightly..?

Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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