As cybercrime continues to be on the increase globally, Police are urging Android smartphone and tablet owners to check their devices after 8 popular apps were found to be harbouring the dangerous "Joker" malware. Google has blocked the apps from the Play Store, but can't do anything to remove the software if it's already installed on your handset...

There's a fresh Android warning being issued to all users ...and this is one you definitely don't want to ignore, Express has reported.

The report said Police officers in Belgium are urging users to delete eight apps from their smartphones and tablets after Google removed the offending apps from the Play Store in a fresh ban. These applications all contain the dangerous "Joker" malware, which is capable of wreaking havoc on any phone that it infects. Removing the apps from the Play Store will protect more people from installing the malware... but it does nothing to help those who have already mistakenly downloaded the dangerous apps, police have warned.

Once installed, Joker has the ability to install hidden spyware and premium diallers onto devices, which can then sign-up unsuspecting users to expensive monthly subscription plans. In the past, some victims have found themselves paying in excess of £240 (N136,585) a year for these fraudulent subscriptions.

In a post on its website, Belgium police said, "Warning! The Joker virus is back in the Android environment. This malware has been spotted in 8 apps from the Play Store which have meanwhile been withdrawn by Google, but if you have already installed one, remove it as soon as possible. 


According to researchers at cyber-security company Quick Heal Security Lab, this latest Joker virus can gain access to text messages, contacts and a lot of other personal information on smartphones.

Like previous variants, it can also then subscribe users up to websites offering paid services which mean users risk a big surprise at the end of the month when their bank account or credit card statement arrives through the letter box.

If you are concerned by this threat then here is the list of affected applications:

1.     Auxiliary Message

2.     Element Scanner

3.     Fast Magic SMS

4.     Free CamScanner

5.     Go Messages

6.     Super Message

7.     Great SMS

8.     Travel Wallpapers

Joker was first spotted back in 2019 but it's recently made a dramatic and hugely unwelcome comeback.

In fact, security researchers have revealed that they've witnessed a "large uptick" in apps that come packed with the nasty Joker malware.

Security firm Zimperium, says that it has seen over 1,000 new samples of Joker since it last reported on the problem back in 2020. And the company is warning that cyber thieves have routinely found new and unique ways to get this malware into both official and unofficial app stores. "Joker trojans are malicious Android applications that have been known since 2017 for notoriously performing bill fraud and subscribing users to premium services," explained Zimperium. "The outcome of a successful mobile infection is financial gain for the cybercriminal, oftentimes under the nose of the victim until long after the money is gone, with little to no recourse for recovery." 

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