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Malicious Software Hiding in Play Store Apps Meant for Kids

There's no denying the hazards posed by malicious software in the 21st century. Not only do unscrupulous apps target innocent and unsuspecting computer users, but some of the newest programs – according to researchers – are specifically aimed at children. While the use of malware isn't a new phenomenon by any means, would-be hackers and identity thieves haven't really embedded their exploits into apps that were meant for children – until now.

Uncovering Malware in Child-Friendly Apps

Per a recent study, a total of 24 apps that – purportedly kid-friendly – were infecting with a brand new family of malware. The malware, known as auto-clicker malware, is most commonly used in advertising fraud and they can be a real hog on system resources and Internet bandwidth.

Some of the infected apps found on the Google Play Store include games like "Cooking Delicious" and "Let Me Go" as well as miscellaneous utilities like calculators, language translators, and other, similar apps. If you've previously installed one or more of these apps, it's recommended that you immediately uninstall the program and ensure your device has all of the latest updates and security patches.

Aviran Hazum, manager of mobile research with Check Point, the research firm behind the recent findings, was recently quoted as saying: ''"To us, the amount of applications targeted and the sheer number of downloads that the actor successfully infiltrated into Google Play is staggering. Combine that with a relatively simple infection methodology, [and] it all sums up to the learning that Google Play Store can still host malicious apps. It is difficult to check if every single application is safe on the Play Store, so users cannot rely on Google Play's security measures alone to ensure their devices are protected."''

Thankfully, the infected apps were removed from the Google Play Store as soon as Check Point's findings were announced. However, this doesn't protect users from downloading new apps that could be malware in disguise. With more than 3 million individual apps on the store at this point, and with new ones being added every single day, it's easy to see how some are able to slip through the cracks and avoid detection.

But that is what makes services like Check Point so valuable. With so many apps incoming on a daily basis, it's impossible for Google – or any other digital storefront – to ensure the integrity and legitimacy of every single app. Independent, third-party services are necessary to research such issues and notify the public when malware is found.

Staying Protected

If you want to protect your mobile device even further, avoid downloading apps and utilities that are new or untested. Instead, wait until an app has been released for a while and take some time to read through the reviews before installing it on your own device. Finally, always make sure your device is equipped with the latest updates, upgrades, and patches from your manufacturer. These essential updates make it even more difficult for malware to take control of your system.


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