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(Mashable) -- Google has just pulled 21 popular free apps from the Android Market. According to the company, the apps are malware aimed at getting root access to the user's device, gathering a wide range of available data, and downloading more code to it without the user's knowledge.
Although Google has swiftly removed the apps after being notified (by the ever-vigilant "Android Police" bloggers), the apps in question have already been downloaded by at least 50,000 Android users.
The apps are particularly insidious because they look just like knockoff versions of already popular apps. For example, there's an app called simply "Chess." The user would download what he'd assume to be a chess game, only to be presented with a very different sort of app.
These apps are all pirated versions of popular games and utilities -- an expeditious solution for busy hackers.
Once downloaded, the apps root the user's device using a method like rageagainstthecage, then use an Android executable file (APK) to nab user and device data, such as your mobile provider and user ID. Finally, the app acts as a wide-open backdoor for your device to quietly download more malicious code.
Below is a partial list of the bad apps, all of which were made by an entity called Myournet.
If you've downloaded one of these apps, it might be best to take your device to your carrier and exchange it for a new one, since you can't be sure that your device and user information is truly secure.
Considering how much we do on our phones -- shopping and mobile banking included -- it's better to take precautions.
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