Have You Installed System Update Spyware on Your Android Device?

Have You Installed System Update Spyware on Your Android Device?

Despite being used by millions of users worldwide, Android continues to be prone to various exploits. Unfortunately, the operating system is often targeted by suspicious apps that smartly trick the user into installing them.

This happens mainly because malicious apps successfully bypass Google Play Store’s security checks and end up there available for download. Once the installation is done, the Android device is no longer as well as the user’s personal information because a spyware app has been silently installed.

Related: BankBot Android Trojan Targets 428 Legitimate Banking Apps

System Update Spyware App Tricks Users into Installation

A good example of a well-played scheme is the System Update scam that posed as a legitimate app in the Google Play Store. According to security company Zscaler, System Update is the name of an app that claimed to grant users access to the latest software updates of Android. The claim is ridiculous as Android updates are installed automatically and do not require additional download. In other words, the user should not be prompted this way to install Android system updates.

Furthermore, installing OS updates is definitely not an action that should be performed by unknown third party apps.

Unfortunately, a huge number of users were lured by the scam as visible by number of downloads. Apparently, the System Update spyware has been installed between 1 and 5 million times since it entered Play Store in 2014. The app is in fact the Android spyware known as SMSVova.

System Update Spyware Continuously Installed on Android Devices

What is weird is that the app got this many downloads despite the tons of bad reviews saying that it wasn’t working. As explained by the researchers:

The app portrays itself as a System Update and its description on the Google Play Store states, “This application updates and enables special location features,” but there is no mention of its remote spying capabilities.

Related: The Security of Android 7 Nougat

Then, researchers as that as soon as the user tries to start up the app, it abruptly quits with the message: “Unfortunately, Update Service has stopped.” The app also has the ability to hide itself from the main screen.

The System Update spyware app has successfully avoided detection for a long time. Even though the app’s last update was in December 2014, Android users continued to install it thus compromising the privacy of their devices.

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer, focused on user privacy and malicious software. Enjoys 'Mr. Robot' and fears '1984'.

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