Some people like to look their best and sometimes reality just isn’t enough. With the addition of an altered reality landscape we can add and modify our worlds and ourselves through the lens of our phones. There are apps that can access your phone’s camera, detect your facial position, add features, correct color imbalances, enhance traits that we find desirable, and can remove elements that aren't so desirable.
Researchers at Trend Micro have found 29 beauty apps in the Google Play store that have malicious traits. These apps take a user’s desire to be more than what they are to open themselves up for attack. They are connected to remote ad configuration servers that receive data about the device the malicious app is installed upon and directs the victim to attacks tailored for that device.
The authors of these malicious apps have included efforts to hide traces of their existence in a feeble attempt at permanence. Once downloaded, one of the packages included in these apps will provide the user a shortcut icon to impale themselves upon, but it will hide the app icon from the application list in an attempt to prevent its own deletion.
These apps have several methods of monetizing their targets including phishing for personal information, collecting freshly taken photos, or even just accepting payments for services not rendered. They can include false “contests” that result in a request for personal information to deliver a promised prize. One app offers beautification of an image uploaded to its server but never gets it, while the attacker compiles a data set full of images that can be used for future fraudulent social media profiles. Another app pushes an ad for a paid online pornography player which accepts payment and likely collects payment information. The researchers have found that the player does not play despite payment.
The Google Play Store has already removed these apps from their roster. The top three (Pro Camera Beauty, Cartoon Art Photo, & Emoji Camera) have had over one million downloads each. The next eight have already had downloads in the hundreds of thousands. The large majority of these downloads occurred in Asia, particularly India.
The best recommendation is to read reviews in any app that you want to try out. Any reviews that are indicative of malicious behavior is sufficient warning. Anything produced by an untrusted source should be subject to scrutiny, and anything requesting information should be doubly so.
• https://blog.trendmicro.com/ trendlabs-security-intelligence/ various-google-play-beauty-cameraapps-sends-users-pornographiccontent-redirects-them-to-phishingwebsites-and-collects-their-pictures/
• https://www.dpreview.com/ news/0890709908/google-removes29-malicious-android-camera-appsfrom-play-store
• https://securityaffairs.co/ wordpress/80666/malware/ malicious-beauty-apps.html