10 million Android gamers hit with malware from Huawei AppGallery

Trojans, malware and viruses are not a new topic by any means, but their repercussions are still as bad, if not worse, from the time they came into prevalence in the Android scene. There exist different kinds of these malicious malware, each with a different goal ranging from injecting ads into your device, spying on you or locking you out of your device.

The latest group to be affected by this kind of malware are millions of mobile gamers who installed infected apps that total to 190 from Huawei’s official app store called Huawei AppGallery. The rampant virus this time around is a variant of the Cynos malware that has been around in the Android ecosystem since 2014.

The variant, going by the name Android.Cynos.7.origin, which is designed to collect users’ device data and phone numbers, was found in 190 games installed on over 10 million Android devices. Once a phone is infected, the users’ phone numbers and device data are scraped, the information obtained is then used to target the devices with ads.

By comparison, this current variant of the Cynos malware seems timid, as there exist other variants that are more aggressive and tread dangerously close in the regions of spyware. They will send premium SMS that can become expensive pretty quickly, download and launch extra modules that are not relatable at all to what a user wanted in the first place, and can also download and install other apps.

The trojan-containing games are varied, targeting different geographical regions and languages. One of them called “Cat Cute Diary” is a game intended for a young audience, thereby potentially putting underage children in harms way. There are also those targeting Russian-speaking users as well as Chinese ones. The games have titles and game descriptions in the local dialect of the regions they are targeting to make as much inroads as possible.

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This is not the first time, and probably won’t be the last Android apps in both the Play Store and Huawei AppGallery have been infested with a malicious virus, we previously looked at the Joker Virus that wreaked havoc a few months ago, as well as the ‘TangleBot’ virus that was using Covid-19 information to trick users into giving the virus access to their phones.

After removing the affected apps from their app store, Huawei provided a statement saying they are working together with the developers to troubleshoot their apps so that they can be reinstated.

“AppGallery’s built-in security system swiftly identified the potential risk within these apps. We are now actively working with affected developers to troubleshoot their apps. Once we can confirm that the apps are all clear, they will be re-listed on AppGallery, so consumers can download their favourite apps again and continue enjoying them.”

“Protecting network security and user privacy is Huawei’s priority. We welcome all third-party oversight and feedback to ensure we deliver on this commitment. We will continue to collaborate closely with our partners, and at the same time, employ the most advanced and innovative technologies to safeguard our users’ privacy,” read part of the statement from Huawei.

Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at criskariuki@gmail.com Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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