‘Joker’ malware toys with victims by lurking in apps on Google’s Play Store, tech experts warn

A prolific malware called ‘Joker’ has once again found its way onto Google’s app store, hiding in legitimate-looking software and subscribing its unsuspecting victims to premium services without their consent.

Research by cyber threat intelligence service Check Point has revealed that a new version of the Joker virus has emerged, hiding in seemingly legitimate applications and downloading more malware onto its victims’ devices.

When downloaded, Joker subscribes users to premium services, unbeknownst to them, and deletes records of the purchase to cover its tracks. 

Since the discovery, Google has removed 11 malicious apps from its Play store. 

Check Point advises that if you think you are a victim of the Joker virus, you should simply uninstall the app in question and check your mobile and credit card bills for any unauthorised payments. And to prevent future attacks, users can simply download some form of mobile antivirus software.

Due to the mischievous nature of the virus, a simple change in how it operates allows it to survive – by making subtle changes to its code, enabling it to slip past Google Play’s defenses and avoid detection. Essentially, the core functionality of Joker is constant, but its methodology is what changes.

In February, Joker infected over 300,000 devices just a month after Google removed nearly 1,700 malicious apps from its Play Store.

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