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Cyber crooks can charge up to $20k to hack Android phones via Google Play Store

Read this new report that dives deep into the playbook of cyber criminals who sell Google Play Store threats.

Published onApril 11, 2023

Google Play Store 2021 1
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
  • A new report from security firm Kaspersky highlights how hackers sell Google Play Store threats to criminals wanting to target Android phone users.
  • Setting up and loading a malicious app on the Google Play Store is very easily doable and can cost up to $20,000.
  • Hackers even go as far as providing promotional demo videos to criminals that intend to buy these Play Store threats.

Want to hack someone or a large number of people via the Google Play Store? You may end up paying up to $20,000 to cyber criminals on the dark web. How can someone hack you via Google’s official app store, you ask? Well, a new report from Kaspersky (via The Register) highlights the different types of Google Play Store threats for sale on pastebin sites and restricted underground online forums.

Apparently, a malicious app loaded onto the Google Play Store to target unsuspecting Android users can cost anywhere between $2,000 to $20,000, depending on the tools used to set it up. Hackers use personal messaging platforms like Telegram to negotiate these prices. There’s also a whole economy behind how hackers accept payments for creating malicious apps. The report notes that they can share a percentage of the final profit, share proceeds from subscriptions or rent, or take a one-time payment.

Moreover, these cyber criminals also sometimes offer to run Google ads to attract more downloads of the trojan app.

While Google constantly polices the Play Store for bad apps that can be a security threat and does not allow apps with suspicious code to be uploaded in the first place, attackers can bypass these platform checks using a variety of tricks.

One such method involves using something called a loader. It is software that allows hackers to upload a benign app to the Play Store and, at some point, update it with malicious code, infecting both new users and those who have already installed the app.

To convince criminals to buy their loaders, hackers go as far as providing a video demonstration to the potential client highlighting user-friendly UI design, convenient control panel, victim country filter, support for the latest Android versions, and more.

The more you read the report, the more you realize the sophisticated and layered setups cyber thugs are using these days. According to Kaspersky, the most popular app categories to hide malware include cryptocurrency trackers, financial apps, QR-code scanners, and dating apps. The security firm advises against downloading any apps you haven’t heard of before. You should also avoid updating unknown apps with new software that asks for additional permissions or forces you to download software from unknown sources.

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