Malicious Google Play Store Apps Can Root Your Android Phone, Might Affect Up To 90 Percent Of All Droid Phones — How To Protect Yourself

Apps from the Google Play Store are the center of an Android device. They let you play games, listen to music in new and exciting ways, and all around make your phone or tablet better. However, downloading Play Store applications can also be dangerous. Reports are stating that certain applications can access parts of your Android device without your permission, which is generally a red flag. As many as 90 percent of Android phones might be vulnerable to these types of malicious programs.

The Good News And The Bad

Android Authority found that the so-called “Godless” apps can attack Android devices running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or below. The good side of this is that those running Android 6 (Marshmallow) should be safer from app attacks. When downloading applications, it’s always good to verify the permissions they are asking for beforehand. Just because permissions are excessive or seem unrelated to the app’s function(s) doesn’t make them illicit, but if you don’t feel comfortable, a second thought may be in order.

Godless App Exploit
Chris Yerga, Director of Engineering for Android, announcing the new Google Play Music All Access platform at the Google I/O Developers Conference on May 15, 2013, in San Francisco, CA. Several downloadable apps are reportedly malicious, and can exploit Android devices to gain added permissions. [Image Via Justin Sullivan, Getty Images]
To Trust, Or Not To Trust?

Unfortunately, there’s not an exact road map for which Play Store apps are safe and which are not. The India Times, however, mentioned that checking a developer’s Play Store reviews can be a good guide; if a developer does not have any feedback or very negative reviews, you should likely steer clear. Having a good anti-virus app can also help, but be wary of malicious programs posing as free anti-virus downloads.

The Aftermath

Malicious apps can give themselves administrator permissions on your Android device without your knowledge or approval. This, in turn, can allow them to install other applications (like potential spyware or bloatware) onto your Android phone or other device.

Will We See A Fix?

Hopefully, the folks over at the Play Store are aware of the Godless apps, and are working on a way to get rid of them. The openness and flexibility of the Android ecosystem can sometimes leave it more open to exploits and attacks, in addition to allowing for more powerful interaction between apps. One benefit of the Android Marshmallow update is that Play Store apps ask for permissions as their needs for them arise. If you see a permission that feels inappropriate or out of place, you can deny that ability to the app, which allows you to cherry-pick which privileges you’re comfortable with allowing.

Godless App Exploit
Several apps collectively known as Godless apps have been discovered. These apps have the ability to give themselves administrator privileges without user approval. [Image Via ymgerman /]
How Bad Is It Really?

The Godless exploit may not be as dastardly as it sounds, however. Android Central tried to assuage users’ concerns about the infected apps by stating that “Summer Flashlight” by Crazy Wi-Fi Team is the only Play Store app labeled as malicious. The rest of the programs come from other app stores, so Play Store users should be relatively safe when downloading apps. Sideloading applications isn’t recommended as those files can come from nearly anywhere.

Godless App Exploit
The Godless app exploit may not be as widespread as previously believed. [Image Via]
Next Steps

While the exploit is not widespread, it’s still advisable to be vigilant. Even well-meaning apps can sometimes overload your system with unnecessary bloatware, thus making it slower and becoming a huge nuisance. Good backup apps, such as CMBackup, make it easy to turn the clock back to before a potentially malicious app was installed if you feel something is causing issues.

[Image Via Aizaq Abdullah/Shutterstock]

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