Malware alert: If you downloaded these 3 Android apps, remove them immediately

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If you’ve downloaded a card game called Durak from Google Play, you may want to delete it from your phone or tablet. Durak has been identified as one of three malicious Android apps hiding in plain sight inside the app store, which have now been removed from sale by Google. Security firm Avast identified Durak as the most widespread of the three, and notes the Play Store stats showed it had been downloaded more than five million times.

The app contains adware, but to catch people out, it remains dormant for a short period of time and until the phone on which it’s installed is rebooted. A series of pop-up ads, sometimes presented when the device is unlocked, will then start to appear, leading the unaware to third-party app stores. Here, according to Avast, apps which try to send premium SMS messages and collect personal data can be found.

Avast also noticed the pop-up messages sometimes warned the user their phone was infected with malware, and sent them to security apps available inside Google Play. Using adware to promote genuine security apps is rather an unusual strategy, a little like private doctors deliberately spreading flu. Worse still, the security apps didn’t even get rid of the problem after installation. The linked apps don’t present a security problem, says Avast.

Reports of malicious Android apps aren’t anything new, but it’s unusual for them to be found inside Google Play, and not an alternative app store. Google has since removed Durak and two other adware infected apps – a Russian IQ test app from developers Shapp, and Russian History from developers Prometej – from Google Play.

We’d suggest you do the same if it’s hanging around on your phone, and here’s how. Go to Settings, then Apps (or the Application Manager, depending on your device), and search through the list for the offending app. When you find it, tap it, and then tap the Uninstall button.

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