Yikes! The Play Store Isn’t Safe
The play store is a place where almost everything you’ll ever need on your smartphone is available. Starting from entertainment to utility based variety. We see apps with millions of downloads, shining reviews and near 5 star ratings everywhere on the play store. But despite all that sweet stuff, there are apps that you may want to steer clear of.
Some of the apps I’m going to mention here might surprise you. And some of them have sinister and malicious tricks to take advantage of our natural gullible nature. And for your safety and privacy you may want to do some research before you press the download button. Some of these apps may give you what you want, and they may be free to download, but they are cunningly taking much more from you than they are worth without you even noticing it.
I will try my best to mention and describe in detail some of the worst apps available on the play store and why they are as dangerous as they are. Hopefully, reading this article will help you be more secure.
The Typical Bad Guys On Google Play And The Web
Before I go into the specifics and name names, its better that I discuss the types of apps you may want to avoid or apps that are just dead weights in your smartphone basically. This will help you judge for yourself which apps not to download.
Most of us have downloaded weather apps on google play at some point or anther. Firstly, they don’t seem suspicious with their often admirable app and interface designs. And it was very tempting to download a weather app just for some heads up of the forecast. I personally rarely found them as accurate as they claimed to be, despite their high ratings.
But there is more, little did we now, that most of these weather apps come with nasty surprises, including a Trojan Horse Virus which would steal confidential information from your phone and continuously send them to cyber criminals/hackers. They were mostly interested in our credit card information and they would achieve this through intercepting our texts which would also save them of the two step verification.
The good news as you may know is that most of our phones come with built-in weather apps which we are better off using instead. in my opinion, the less funkier they are the better.
I’ve downloaded a lot of optimizer apps on the android devices that I’ve used over time. But you know what? It never made a difference for me. In fact, my phones actually got a drop in performance and my battery life depleted faster after downloading them. lucky for us, there are built-in optimization apps on most android smartphones today that actually does what it’s supposed to do.
So, avoid these apps on the play store. Optimizer apps are just dead weights on your phone that you don’t have to carry. The only thing you do get are annoying ads that come with the app. Oh, and they steal your data too; which is an added bonus.
Don’t Use Too Many Social Media Apps
Social Media Apps are safe, well, mostly they are. I used to have eight social media apps because I am a people person (#lie). I had Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Viber, Snapchat, twitter and Tumblr for some reason. I used to get buzzing noises from notifications from all of them 24 hours a day, it got so annoying. And Skype I deleted the day I downloaded, because it was so greedy on my phone’s memory and battery life
I had to recharge my phone at least 3 times a day, whereas, there was a time when I only had to charge once. So, I resorted to only using Facebook and Facebook Messenger which was suitable for my personal contacts. So, try to only use the Social media apps that you absolutely need. Because using too many of these apps will basically slow you down.
Well, yes these apps are not from Google play store, these are default browser apps that come with your smartphones. The problem with these built-in browsers is that they are not as secure and are not capable of protecting your data from cyber criminals or encrypting your data like browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox.
And built-in browsers are sort of irritating. They pop open when ever you’d click on a link automatically, forcing you to use them. So, you’re better off just deleting them.
There are varying opinions on whether we should download antivirus apps at all. But if you must download an antivirus, do it from the Google Play Store. It is a known fact that downloading Antivirus apps from unknown sources is unwise, however, according to hellotech, a lot of fake antivirus programs are being uploaded on Google Play.
Researchers at RiskIQ searched the term “antivirus” on google play store, they found 655 antivirus applications. Among these anti virus apps 131 apps were blacklisted. Although, Google has advanced screening processes to protect your phone from harmful apps; hundreds of malicious apps still make it through to the play store.
These antivirus programs claim to protect your device from viruses that aren’t even targeted at smartphones. But what these apps really do is ravage your system with Trojan Horse, Malware and Adware viruses.
Android and IOS are operating systems that are constantly being updated. And as for Android itself, protecting your phone from harmful applications are one of the advantages you get from google play services. After you’ve installed an app from Google Play, be patient and never forget to read the app permissions carefully.
Finally, the most important thing that you must do is to go to your settings, scroll down to security, locate the Unknown Sources option and disable it if you haven’t already. after that, you can relax unless you work for a secret government agency.
However, I am not condemning antivirus apps, I’m just saying you can manage without them. I’ll put a reputable antivirus app just in case you still prefer them. Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus is known to be the best.
What Are Viruses
The term Virus however, is tricky concept. It has its origins on windows where it would attack the system by making copies of itself exponentially. The term virus is attributed to all harmful cyber threats due to its infamy. But essentially, there are no threats that can do what traditional computer viruses can on Android.
The true threat to Android devices are the apps containing rootkits. It is the enabler of all the malicious activities cyber criminals use today. Rootkits are the true plague of the digital world. The sad news is; no amount of anti-virus apps can detect them. I’m working on an article to elaborate this topic in depth, I”ll also notify you the latest and greatest threats that exist today.
Browsers with additional features
There are some browsers that offer extra features. It could be faster browsing, access to sites that are banned in your country, lower data usage, faster video streaming, frequent news updates that are blisteringly annoying. These apps heat up your phone, slows it down significantly and doesn’t let you sleep as it makes your phone go Beep Beep every once in a while.
These nuances aren’t even the worst of it though. These apps have to take permissions for questionable and almost every aspect that concerns your privacy. You basically have to let them swoop all your personal information and let them sell it to organizations that use it to make you buy their stuff without you even realizing.
They can manage your calls, they track you everywhere you go, they monitor your searches, sell your IMEI, IMSI numbers and android IDs right under your nose to online businesses without any encryption.
I could’ve described the technical bits in more detail but I rephrased the whole thing, because that would be so utterly boring and unnecessary. But the point is; these are the common features that most browser apps with ill intent deliver.
I will list a few of these browsers later in this discussion. However, if you’d like to know more; click here.
Battery Savers and Fast Charge apps
One of the most useless but popular apps on google play are the battery savers. I think you’ve found out by now that they don’t really save any battery power. In fact, battery savers don’t really do anything aside from showing you ads.
And as for fast charging apps, there is literally no app in existence that can help you charge your phone faster. If you want to charge your smartphone faster, buy a phone with fast charging. Or, just enable Airplane mode and wallah! No apps required.
The most cunning threat for gullible people are the wifi apps. They claim to provide wifi-hotspots, Speed boosters, free wifi keys, network protection and a lot of other things we wish we could have.
But the truth is these apps just want to get to know you. They won’t give you all those cool things they say they’ll give you; they’ll steal your data just like many of the other kind of apps I’ve mentioned here.
Photo Editor Apps
Have you ever heard the Guerilla Malware? Well it’s a program that is targeted at android users and what it does is contact distant servers and receive commands that make it download malicious Java archive files. This java code generates a whole lot of money for the app developers by automating clicks on their ads.
Many of us download photo editors from the play store to make ourselves look just a little bit like a super star. But what we didn’t know is a ton fraudulent activity happening right under our noses.
Sophoslabs a security firm has discovered up to 25 photo editor softwares that contained this Guerilla Malware. And it’s not just photo editors, its mostly any app that looks too funky.
The Bottom Line
Apps that ask for too many suspicious permissions that are completely unrelated to its utility should be avoided. And useless apps are a waste of your phone’s resources. However, it is for you to educate yourself and judge whether an app is worth downloading or not. I am hoping this article will help you make a safer choice.
The Naughty Google Play Store Apps
Now you know which apps to watch out for. However, we have only just reached the juicy bit. Here is the list of apps that I found to be troublesome.
AIMP MUSIC PLAYER APP
Mining Crypto currency is a very delicious business. Now that the price of bitcoin has reached almost eight thousand dollars. And these guys love mining bitcoin with your smartphone’s computing power. Ironically its got a high rating of 4.5 on the play store.
AIMP is a music player app with great reviews and it has been downloaded 10 million times. However, users have started to notice the high amount of power consumption and slowing down of their smartphones.
It’s better just to use the music player app that comes with phone. However, SoundCloud is an absolutely fantastic app for music lovers. All you have to do is press the heart icon on your favorite songs and the song will be saved on your device.
UC Browser is one of those browsers that provide you with EXTRA (Sarcastic finger gesture) features. The moment you download and open the app, you’ll notice a drop in your Phone’s performance, frequent Spammy News Updates every 5 minutes, it will take system wide permissions and sell your data to Alibaba.
The UC Browser is somehow very popular in Southeast Asia.
Dolphin Web Browser
Unlike the UC browser the Dolphin Web Browser is Ad free. However, like the UC Browser it is tracking you all the time. And when you visit websites on incognito mode, it politely saves your history in a file on your phone. No Thanks Dolphin.
As I’ve mentioned before apps like the clean master are dead weight. This app basically does what built-in apps can already do. These apps are a waste of space and splatter you with ads whenever they can.
And Fun Fact, you really shouldn’t clean your cache memory all the time because according to hardwaresecrets “The cache memory is high-speed memory available inside the CPU in order to speed up access to data and instructions stored in RAM memory”. Which means cache memory actually helps your phone run smoother and faster.
Skype & Viber
I do not have any accusations for the application regarding malicious behavior. But this app is extremely power hungry and heats up my phone like a frying pan. It could be dangerous considering that many smartphone batteries have a tendency to explode when overheated.
However, Viber isn’t as bad as Skype with the overheating and lagging of your smartphone. Even my laptop used to heat up and slow down when I used Skype back in the days.
It is way better to just use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for your phone calls instead.
List Of Popular Photo Editors With Millions Of Downloads
I’ve made the mistake of downloading almost 4 photo editors myself. There is no shame in trying to look good. However, I’ve listed the most popular photo editing apps that you should avoid.
- Collage Maker
- Collage Maker 2018
- S Photo Plus
ES File Explorer File Manager
The ES file manager used to be a great app. I preferred it myself for its intuitive interface. But in this world nothing good lasts forever. The ES Flie Manager now shoves forceful scam notifications which cannot be disabled, bloatware and ad-ware.
Using your Default file manager is the smartest thing to do in this case.
DU Battery Saver Or Any Battery Saving Apps
DU Battery saver or any app on the play store that claims to slow the depletion of your phone or reduce charging duration is total rubbish. As I have mentioned earlier, it is not possible.
Why Snapchat you ask? Well, it takes up a ton of storage for an app that is just for socializing, sharing stories with people. There are a ton of important things you might have to store in your phone and storage is expensive as heck! Every Tech giant smartphones charge more money for just 16 more gigabytes of extra storage. Just think about it.
Super Bright Led Torch
Do I really need to explain why you don’t need this app? Super Bright Led Torch is ranked 8th on the most power draining app on the play store according to Avast Press. I mean, you most likely already have a pretty intense flashlight on your smartphone, adding to the fact that it doesn’t really make the flash light any brighter than it already is.
Quickpic used to be a legit photo gallery app. Cheetah Mobile purchased QuickPic and started to upload user data to its servers. A Google Plus user confirmed this claim as he found a lot of DNS requests that could be linked back to Cheetah Mobile. So, this app is no longer safe.
The truth is there will always be cyber criminals who are trying to take advantage of you. But there will also be ways to tackle their attempts against our security and safety. I will keep updating this article to include more ways you may be able to protect your device. And I hope my efforts will help you in one way or another.
Please share this information with your Family & Friends if it helped. And also check out : How To Control Your PC With Your Smartphone