Owners of Android smartphones are being instructed to delete eight popular apps as soon as possible – or risk losing their money to hackers.
Google has taken swift action to delete eight apps containing evidence of the Joker virus, which installs hidden spyware to track your Internet usage and messages as well as sign you up to expensive fake monthly subscriptions.
The Joker virus, which was first identified in 2019, has infected an estimated half a million people and stolen thousands of pounds in the process – often without users' knowledge.
Now, Android owners are urged to remove the apps from their devices as they still present a threat – even after being banned from the Play Store, Express.co.uk reports.
These apps include:
- Travel Wallpapers
- Great SMS
- Super Message
- Go Messages
- Free CamScanner
- Fast Magic SMS
- Element Scanner
- Auxiliary Message
The Joker virus works by hacking smartphone bills to authorize payments without consent – and is effectively capable of emptying your bank account.
It can also spy on your messages, Internet history, and call data – and reach your contacts without your knowledge.
The security firm Zimperium claims to have seen over 1,000 new examples of the Joker virus since it first encountered the problem back in 2020.
"Joker trojans are malicious Android applications that have been known since 2017 for notoriously performing bill fraud and subscribing users to premium services," explained Zimperium.
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"The outcome of a successful mobile infection is financial gain for the cybercriminal, oftentimes under the nose of the victim until long after the money is gone, with little to no recourse for recovery."
Google has issued tips for keeping your Android device safe.
You should only download applications from the Google Play Store and never click on links received through messages or social media platforms.
The company also advises that you turn off installation from unknown sources in your phone settings.
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