We’d love to post only positive news here regarding the fast-moving world of technology, but unfortunately, it’s becoming a case of another day, another malware discovered where Google’s Android is concerned, and the latest one is arguably the most alarming of all. Because while free apps often allow users to sample apps before paying for the full version, the latest chapter in the Android malware debacle actually charges users for the privilege of using free apps.

While the Big G – along with the various security firms – have done their utmost to help prevent outbreaks, the unscrupulous individuals behind the malicious hits have just gotten more and more cunning. This latest one is a new variant of Android.Opfake, and charges consumers for free apps. Whilst the other strains of malware doing the rounds tend to show tell-tale signs to the masses, this is certainly one of the most covert, clever, and calculated hits to date.

This one has been discovered by Symantec, the firm behind the popular, omni-present Norton security suites, and prompts Android users to install fake apps – all of which are free on the Google Play Store – and then charges. It’s a pretty expansive and well thought-out project, and all of the associated apps are hosted on dedicated servers and spoof app markets, adding a sense of respectability and authenticity to the entire scam.The scammers are certainly trying to target as many users as possible, and this outbreak comes just weeks after fake iterations of the popular Angry Birds Space and Instagramapps began circulating via unvetted mediums. Others have taken a different approach, sending a sleuth of SMS messages from compromised devices to premium numbers, potentially raking a small fortune for the scam artist(s) in the process.When you download and install one of the Android.Opfake apps, some sort of secondary installation runs, and when complete, you are prompted to confirm an agreement, which itself is just a link to the bottom of the page. After you’ve read the agreement, you’re inadvertently tricked into paying for the free app.Google Play logo

The message is yet again: only install apps from the Play Store if you don’t want to get scammed. Google often gets criticized for the uprising in Android malware, but if users stuck to its official store, they would find their risk of malware trouble decreases significantly.

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