Symantec has cautioned Android users about a malicious app that quietly generates advertising revenue for its creators behind your back.
Downloaded 45,000 times in the last six months alone, the software – known as Xhelper – can hide itself on your handset to avoid detection. And even if you do manage to locate it on your smartphone and delete it, the nefarious app can reinstall itself without your permission. Worse yet, it seems to be spreading fast.
According to research by security firm Symantec, there was an average of 131 devices infected each and every day in the last month, with an average of 2,400 devices persistently infected throughout the month. The malware appears to mostly affect users in India, United States of America, and Russia.
Not only does the app silently use advertising to earn money from your handset but it can download other threats to your smartphone when it wants, too.
Suitably spooked? You should be, according to the research from Symantec.
The app has even been observed re-installing itself onto users’ smartphones after they uninstall it. Xhelper is designed to stay hidden by not appearing inside your Android smartphone’s launcher, so scrolling through the list of apps won’t help.
All this to say, it’s a really nasty piece of software.
However, there is some good news. For starters, Symantec hasn’t detected any instances of Xhelper originating from the Google Play Store. So, if you only download apps and games from the Google-operated digital marketplace, then you’re extremely unlikely to be infected by the dangerous app.
But if you want to be sure you’re in the clear, anti-virus software will be able to unearth the dangerous new app.
According to Symantec, its own anti-virus solution will identify Xhelper as “Android.Malapp”. Symantec, which owns Norton anti-virus, or similar anti-virus solutions will be able to strip-out the dangerous app for good.
It’s been a rough month for Android and iPhone users alike. In the last few days, iPhone owners have been cautioned to remove 17 applications that infiltrated the App Store and were quietly generated advertising revenue – using mobile data and processing power behind Apple smartphone users’ backs.
Not only that, but researchers at ESET this week also identified 42 Android apps from inside the Google Play Store containing harmful adware, something that can drain your battery life, data and can even gather personal information.