The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) has advised against the installation of apps from the offending publisher, the ‘Mobile Apps Group’, whose products were discovered to contain Trojans and adware harmful to users and their privacy.
NCC-CSIRT’s advisory on the incident disclosed that “The Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT) has continued to observe and monitor the constant introduction of malicious mobile applications into Google Play Store.
“Mobile apps Group has a history of distributing malware-infected apps through the Google Play store, and the current batch of apps has already been downloaded over a million times,” it said.
It listed the group’s malicious apps as Bluetooth Auto Connect, Bluetooth App Sender, driver, Bluetooth, wi-fi, USB and mobile transfer and smart switch.
“The apps will delay the display of ads for up to three days after installation to avoid detection. However, once this period has passed, the user is bombarded with advertisements and is directed to malicious phishing websites in the Chrome browser. While the device is idle, the malicious app can open Chrome tabs in the background. Some of the sites it opens may appear to be harmless, but they are pay-per-click pages that generate revenue for the developers when clicked on.”
A statement by NCC’s director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka, highlighted the consequences of installing the malicious apps including the user being bombarded with advertisements, which will degrade the user experience, theft of sensitive user data, clicking on the ads resulting in the stealth download or installation of additional malware, as well as jeopardising user privacy.
These unpleasant consequences are avoidable when users refrain from downloading apps developed by Mobile apps Group and ensure to read app reviews before installing any app. Other proffered solutions are for users that may have installed any of the identified malicious apps to immediately uninstall them and install up-to-date anti-malware solutions to detect and remove malware.
NCC-CSIRT rated the malicious activities of the offending apps as “high in probability and potential to do damage”.
The CSIRT is the telecom sector’s cyber security incidence centre set up by the NCC to focus on incidents in the telecom sector and as they may affect telecom consumers and citizens at large.
Also, the CSIRT works collaboratively with ngCERT, established by the Federal Government to reduce the volume of future computer risk incidents by preparing, protecting, and securing Nigerian cyberspace to forestall attacks and problems or related events.