Android phone owners have been warned that a strain of malware known as FalseGuide has been downloaded onto close to two million handsets.
The malicious software had been hidden inside a number of apps on the Google Play store between 2016 and early 2017. The apps appeared to be guides to other Android games, and were submitted under the names of fake developers ‘Sergei Vernik’ and ‘Nikolai Zalupkin’.
Security experts warned that FalseGuide cannot be removed once a phone is infected – and those who have fallen victim to the malware have been bombarded with advertising.
The offending apps have now been removed from the Google Play store.
It is thought that a team of Russian hackers are behind the malware, which they may be using to create a botnet.
Online security firm Check Point explains: “A botnet is a group of devices controlled by hackers without the knowledge of their owners. The bots are used for various reasons based on the distributed computing capabilities of all the devices.
“FalseGuide can receive messages containing links to additional modules and download them to the infected device.
“Depending on the attackers’ objectives, these modules can contain highly malicious code intended to root the device, conduct a DDoS attack, or even penetrate private networks.”
Check Point warns that mobile botnets have been increasingly seen over the past few months, adding: “Users shouldn’t rely on the app stores for their protection, and implement additional security measures on their mobile device, just as they use similar solutions on their PCs.”