Is one of your apps silently reading your texts? Security researchers have identified a series of malicious apps that secretly snoop on your messages.
What’s even more frightening is that some of these apps are freely available on Android and Apple’s app stores.
The malicious apps come with innocent names. One app, found on the Google Play Store, is called Skin Care Magazine. It has an average rating of 3 stars out of 5 and seems fairly innocent.
Another app is called “App Play Store”. Both apps come from the same developer, a company called New.App (although a Google search reveals virtually no information about that company available online).
The apps snoop on your SMS messages in a similar way. After you download and install the apps, they download dangerous plugins specifically built to steal your text messages.
It’s suspected that scammers read your messages, then use the information inside those messages to steal your information. You might get a text from your bank, for example, and the hacker could use that information to commit identity fraud.
How to Avoid Malicious SMS Tracking Apps
Security experts have found two malicious apps already. However, if they’ve identified two apps, then there are almost certainly more apps out there. That’s why you need to implement strong security measures on your mobile device.
Fortunately, protecting yourself from malicious SMS tracking apps is easier than you think. Just follow these tips:
Download Only from Official App Stores: Yes, malware slips through Apple’s and Google’s security cracks all the time. However, you expose yourself to significantly more security problems when you download apps from outside the official app store. Only download apps from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store (or a reputable third party like the Amazon app store).
Never Look for Free Premium Apps Online: When you search for free premium apps online, you’re almost certainly going to encounter scammy, disreputable websites that lure you into downloading malware – including the type of malware that tracks your SMS messages. Don’t be tempted to download free premium apps.
Check App Ratings: Check the app’s rating on the app store, as well as the number of reviews. Make sure the app has hundreds or thousands of good reviews.
Check the Developer: Does the developer list their name and information? If you’re suspicious about an app, check the developer to make sure they’re legitimate. Malware authors don’t usually disclose their personal information.
Update your Device: Every day you avoid downloading an update, you’re exposing yourself to greater and greater risk. Update your device to the latest version. Update your apps when available.
Uninstall Old Apps: Scroll through your list of apps and uninstall any old apps you no longer use. In some cases, old apps are outdated and prone to exploits. In other cases, malicious developers take over an old app and exploit existing users.
Obviously, not all SMS tracking apps are malicious. An SMS tracker is “malicious” if it masks its functionality behind a seemingly-innocent app – like the skincare treatment app mentioned above.