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Android Malware Hits Victims in 196 Countries

Malware disguised as games and utilities struck more than 100,000 victims before being taken out of Google Play.

New Android malware hit more than 100,000 users in 196 countries before Google removed it from Google Play — and it continues to steal personal information from users across the globe.

Researchers at Trend Micro found ANDROIDOS_MOBSTSPY, spyware that disguised itself as six different Android apps, five of which were removed from Google Play in February 2018. One of the apps, Flappy Birr Dog, remained available in the store until the beginning of 2019.

According to the researchers, the malware collects personal information, including user location and SMS conversations, using Firebase Cloud Messaging to send information to its command and control server. That same server can instruct the software to gather data that could include downloading files located on the Android device and conduct a phishing campaign by displaying fake Google and Facebook pop-up ads to encourage the victim to give up credentials.

While the greatest number of victims were in India, which accounted for nearly one-third of the total, the malware's reach extended to nearly every continent.

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