The last thing our society needs is more malicious applications on mobile devices. Unfortunately, it appears Google’s anti-malware filters are woefully inadequate at this time. Several new applications have been identified as containing the Ztorg malware. Thankfully, these apps have been removed in quick succession. It is the second time in mere weeks Google has to take such a drastic action.
More Malicious Android Apps Get Removed
It is always good to see Google take the necessary actions to keep consumer devices safe from harm. Removing applications containing malware are a good step in the right direction. At the same time, one could argue these apps should never be allowed in the first place. For some reason, this new batch of Ztorg-laden apps successfully got through the mazes of security engineers, which is quite a problematic development, to say the least.
If one cannot trust the applications carefully curated by companies such as Google, things are not looking all that great. It is not the first time malicious applications get approved by the Play Store security team. Either they are not doing their job properly, or nefarious app developers are getting a lot better at hiding their malicious payloads. It is certainly possible the latter is the most plausible explanation.
What makes Ztorg such a troublesome type of malware is how it gives assailants full root privileges over the infected device. Moreover, Ztorg has successfully bypassed Google’s automatic malware checks several dozen times, and continues to do so with relative ease. This particular malicious software has been in circulation since September of 2016 and continues to become an ever-growing problem of concern. Some apps containing this malware have been downloaded over 50,000 times, which is not a positive sign.
The Ztorg-laden apps have become quite notorious as they are rather difficult to remove. Moreover, these apps almost always use different well-known exploits to root infected devices accordingly. Most people download these applications because they are free and seem to be free of malware. Once they are installed on a phone or tablet however, assailants gain root access and conduct all kinds of misbehavior.
Earlier this month, Google was forced to remove several other applications and games laden with malware. It is evident cybercriminals are using the Android ecosystem as a way to successfully obtain sensitive user information. In most cases, this data theft can also capture payment information, login details, and even text messages. Once a criminal gains remote root access to a phone, they can install any application they want.
From the look of things, the Ztorg developers are still testing the waters, without seeking to do major damage at this stage. Testing a new type of malware takes a lot of time and effort, as is to be expected. Some of the techniques used by the developers can lead to bricked devices, which can’t be their ultimate objective. It will be intriguing to see how big of a threat Ztorg will become over time.
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