Some 600,000 android users have accidentally installed fake apps which pretended to be cheats for the popular online game Minecraft.
Some 3m android users could also be at risk after unknowingly downloading malicious software from the Google Play store, according to IT security firm ESET.
More than 30 of the scareware apps were available and all were found to be malicious in nature.
They displayed banners designed to try and trick users into believing their device was infected with a “dangerous virus”.
“Any user interaction with the application, either clicking the Start, Options and Exit buttons, or clicking on one of the numerous ad banners, will lead to an alert window popping up, saying that the device is infected with a virus and gives the victim the possibility to remove it,” Lukas Stefanko of ESET said.
“Clicking on the alert leads to another step of the scam — several websites with more scareware messages. One of these websites tries to appear as if they belonged to the legitimate anti-virus vendor, G-Data.”
In the endgame of the scam, consumers were instructed to remove the “virus” by activating a premium rate SMS subscription service costing €4.80 a week.
Though all 33 of the suspect applications were uploaded to the Google Play store by different developer accounts, ESET suspects they were created by the same person.
Despite receiving poor user reviews and negative comment, some of the apps were installed between 100k and 500k times. The total number of installations to date is somewhere between 660k and 2.8m.
After notification from ESET, Google removed the apps from the Play store and announced all applications will now be reviewed by humans in an effort to increase security and further lower the amount of malicious applications available.
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