Thanks to Chen Yu of SophosLabs for her research.
SophosLabs has discovered apps in Google Play harbouring Guerilla ad clicker malware.
The malware, identified by Sophos as Andr/Guerilla-D, found its way on to Google Play during March and April 2018, in innocent-looking photo editor apps.
SophosLabs detected the malware in a total of 25 apps, all of which have been reported to Google.
Sadly, it’s not the first time this malware has made it past Google’s Android app review process and into the walled garden of Google Play. Earlier this year SophosLabs alerted Google to the presence of more than a dozen malicious apps and published a report about Guerilla malware targeting Android users.
The apps harbouring the Guerilla malware work – they really are games, flashlight apps or photo editors – but while they’re doing what you’d expect, they’re also doing something you wouldn’t: contacting remote servers and receiving instructions to download malicious JAR (Java Archive) files.
That extra Java code generates fraudulent ad revenue for the app developers by making the phone click on Google ads in the background, without users realising.
The new batch of Guerilla apps display a few technical differences from those removed from Google Play earlier this year.
Like the earlier apps, the latest ones hide their payloads in their asset folders as text files. This time around the apps use the filenames
In an apparent effort to avoid detection, the JAR files now arrive encrypted, with the DES algorithm, and are decrypted on the phone.
The affected packages are:
|Beauty camera||com.aeapp.camera.pls||1000+||bai xiongshu|
|Collage maker 2018||com.YtApp.collage.edit||100000+||bai xiongshu|
|Collage Maker||com.UIApp.photo.maker||100000+||bai xiongshu|
|S Photo Plus||com.oly.upic.photo||100000+||LiaoAny|
|Photo Studio Plus||com.uil.cls.edit||10000+||elaine.wei|
|Collage Studio Pro||com.old.clo.pic||10+||elaine.wei|
|Hot Chick||com.ndun.hotchick||10000+||Sunshine Fun|
|Popular video||com.cpap.video.ploy||5000+||Phoenix bird Tech Limited|
|Music play||com.quan.music.musicapp||1000+||Jiangxi Huarui Network technology company|
|Photo collage edit||com.UIApp.photo.coledit||10+||Jiangxi Huarui Network technology company|
|Pic collage||com.UIApp.pic.collage||50+||Jiangxi Huarui Network technology company|
|Super Photo Plus||com.HwA.slp.photopls||1+||kowloon|
|Sweet Collection||com.zwws.sweetcollection||10000+||TopFun Families|
|Pic collage||com.GxApp.plus.edit||5+||Shenzhen coronation plus Technology Co.. Ltd.|
|K music||com.glp.music.ha||10+||Shenzhen coronation plus Technology Co.. Ltd.|
What to do?
In all areas of cybersecurity we recommend a strategy of defence in depth.
The safest place to get your Android apps is still Google Play. Although malware is found there fairly regularly, it’s still news when it happens. Google Play isn’t perfect but it’s a far safer environment than other, unregulated, app repositories.
Because no app review process can ever be perfect, we recommend running security software on your phone too, such as Sophos’s free Sophos Mobile Security for Android.
Google have removed all 25 apps from Google Play.
7 comments on “Watch out: photo editor apps hiding malware on Google Play”
My favorite malware distribution site.
(standard question) did they notify any of the people that downloaded these apps from them?
Better question — seeing the grouping, have these publishers been banned?
I thank you for naming the apps. Many other publications don’t name the apps.
Is this only android devises what about mac apps?
This malware family is only for Android.
Apple’s App Store hasn’t been entirely immune from dodgy apps (see link below), but they’ve been few and far between compared to malware on Google Play.
There’s a new one. 360° photo editor. Where can we report other malware?
If you’d like to let SophosLabs know so that someone can look at the sample and deal with it accordingly (including reporting to Google if needed), you can do so via email or the web: