Many of those free and ‘must-have’ apps on Google Play store could only mean trouble, security firm Symantec warns. The world leader in security software has identified several malware apps that steal personal data from Android users.

Through various independent researches carried out in Japan, Symantec found 29 apps on Google Play store that were stealing confidential and personal user-data from Android-based devices. In one research the security expert found a particularly nasty spyware installed on over 70,000 Android phones. The company points out that such incidence may not be restricted to Japan alone. Users in many other countries may be similarly affected as Android-based phones are currently ruling the mobile market.

In its report, Symantec pointed out that these 29 malware were created by seven developers. Many of these data-stealing apps have been on Google Play since February while the rest appeared in last week of March.

Android users beware: 29 malware on Google Play
Malware Alert: Google Play has 29 data stealing apps

Symantec also said the identified malware apps all had a common programming code suggesting the possibility that they could be the effort of a single organization or individual.

The Tokyo police have been alerted of the crime and are now looking for the people responsible. Their investigations have revealed that the stolen data was collected in a single server. The Japanese police believe it could be the same server blamed for the ‘oneclickfraud’ malware some time back.

Users are easily lured by applications like recipe app, games, contact-management app or those offering pornography. The identified malware were random and mostly from these categories. Some movie-based apps (with the common ending ‘-themovie’) were also found among them.

Meanwhile many applications are trying to cash in on the cricket fever. The current IPL series had prompted many unscrupulous developers to release IPL applications that were actually stealing users’ personal data.

I would advise my readers, especially Android- mobile users, to exercise restraint and caution before downloading apps. Carefully read the permissions, terms and conditions of any application before you hit the ok/download button. Go by your gut feeling. If your instinct tells you to avoid, then avoid such an application, especially, when you can’t be sure of the source.

By Rajeev Rana

Founder and Chief Editor -