Smartphones and tablets have essentially become data troves that if hacked can reveal even the most personal aspects of the owner's life. This is why digital security and anti-malware software are so popular across the world. People try to keep their smartphones updated to the latest firmware versions to ensure that the latest security patches are present on the system.

However, even after such precautions, there is always a chance that the device may get infected with a malware or Spyware.

A recent report indicated that thousands of apps that hide a spyware program inside them have made its way into the Google Play Store. The majority of these apps are messaging programs that are always in high demand and is quite popular with smartphone users.


Spyware infections in Play Store apps

The digital security firm, Lookout, has revealed that the malware infection in Play Store apps has been noticed. This malware, which goes by the name SonicSpy, is able to take remote control of a phone upon infection and may be used to steal data from users. Anyone who installs these apps will not be aware that anything is wrong as the apps do work as messaging programs.

However, using the malware, the apps will also start installing a certain discreet program in the background and remotely access the system. The processes which it can highlight include sending text messages, outbound calls, copying the call logs, contacts and using the Wi-Fi data of the device's owner.

Who developed these apps?

These dangerous programs are believed to have been developed by a team based in Iraq.

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Estimates suggest that there are over 1,000 apps of such a nature in existence today. The developers injected malware programs into the source code of a popular messaging service, Telegram. The resulting apps were renamed, some of which include Hulk Messenger, Sonia, and Troy Chat. These three apps were listed in the Play Store successfully before the report finally exposed their true nature. Since then, Google has taken down these malicious apps.

Lookout also warned that the same apps may be available for direct download or through phishing texts with download links. Third party app stores also list these infected applications. For instance, the infected Soniac is still available for download through a site known as App Geiser.

In May, researchers had uncovered that malware was being used on those smartphones where the Judy series of cooking games were being installed. Being a popular franchise, the infection rate was much higher. Lookout predicts that around 47 Android running devices out of 1,000 are currently using these malicious apps.