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Sneaky Android adware hides its own icon to avoid deletion – here’s how to remove it

Date published: 2019-10-09
Originally published: Here. Excerpt below.


Security researchers at Sophos have found a manipulative strain of adware in the Google Play Store that attempts to avoid removal by hiding its own icon in the launcher, or by disguising itself as a legitimate system app.
The researchers found 15 apps in the Play Store that serve no purpose other than to display intrusive ads, and are unusually difficult to uninstall – and there may still be more undiscovered.
One such app, Flash On Calls & Messages – aka Free Calls & Messages, displays a fake error message when launched, claiming that it’s incompatible with your device. The app then directs you to the Google Play Store entry for Google Maps, to trick you into thinking that was the cause of the ‘crash’.
You’ll have a hard time uninstalling the malicious app because it hides its own icon. Sophos has identified similar apps that appear on your phone’s App Settings page, but with a name and icon that makes them look like a harmless system app.
TechRadar asked Sophos how Android users can avoid falling victim to this kind of adware, and what you can do if you’ve installed a malicious app that you can’t remove.
“While these apps have been removed from the Google Play Store, there may be others we haven’t yet discovered that do the same thing,” Andrew Brandt, principal researcher for Sophos, told us.
“If you suspect that an app you recently installed is hiding its icon in the app tray, tap Settings (the gear menu) and then Apps & Notifications. The most recently opened apps appear in a list at the top of this page."
"If any of those apps use the generic Android icon (which looks like a little greenish-blue Android silhouette) and have generic-sounding names (‘Back Up,’ ‘Update,’ ‘Time Zone Service’) tap the generic icon and then tap ‘Force Stop’ followed by ‘Uninstall.’ A real system app will have a button named ‘Disable’ instead of ‘Uninstall’ and you don’t need to bother disabling it."
When it comes to avoiding these malicious apps, Brandt recommends ...


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Sneaky Android adware hides its own icon to avoid deletion – here’s how to remove it https://t.co/tBUlfj6jjW #Play #Store #Google #tech pic.twitter.com/P7WZMNPV68

— NUS Trivia | tech news (@NusTrivia) October 9, 2019