New Delhi: If you love to apply filters or edit your selfies through beauty apps then you need to be alert. According to a recent report, dozens of malicious beauty apps are available on play store which are stealing data and sharing pornographic content with users.

After the report by US-based security firm Trend Micro that named 29 such photo editing apps, Google Play Store has banned these apps for their malicious intents such as embedded phishing targets or even data theft.

Why it should matter Indian users:

The report by Trend Micro said that they discovered several beauty camera apps that are capable of accessing remote ad configuration servers that can be used for malicious purposes. Some of these have already been downloaded millions of times, which is unsurprising given the popularity of these kinds of apps. A large number of the download counts originated from Asia, particularly in India.

Difficult to track their intent:

While downloading user will not be able to suspect any foul play until they decide to delete the app. These apps will create a shortcut after being launched. However, it will hide its icon from the application list, making it more difficult for users to uninstall the app since they will be unable to drag and delete it.

How these malicious apps work:

These malicious apps will push several full-screen ads when users unlock their devices. These ads may include fraudulent content and pornography that will pop up via the user’s browser. None of these apps gives any indication that they are the ones behind the ads, thus users might find it difficult to determine where they’re coming from.

These apps also redirect its user to phishing websites that sought personal information of the users which included address and phone numbers.

Identity theft:

Another batch of photo filter-related apps allows users to “beautify” their pictures by uploading them to the designated server. However, instead of getting a final result with the edited photo, the user gets a picture with a fake update prompt in nine different languages. The authors can collect the photos uploaded in the app, and possibly use them for malicious purposes — for example as fake profile pics in social media.

How to stay safe:

Given that many of these malicious apps take great pains to look as legitimate as possible, users should always investigate the legitimacy of an app. One good method of doing this is by checking reviews from other users. If the reviews mention any kind of suspicious behaviour, then it might be a good idea to refrain from downloading the app.

Google has deleted these twenty-nine apps from its platform. Here is the full list:

- Pro Camera Beauty

- Cartoon Art Photo

- Emoji Camera

- Artistic effect Filter

- Art Editor

- Beauty Camera

- Selfie Camera Pro

- Horizon Beauty Camera

- Super Camera

- Art Effects for Photo

- Awesome Cartoon Art

- Art Filter Photo

- Art Filter Photo Effcts

- Cartoon Effect

- Art Effect

- Photo Editor

- Wallpapers HD

- Magic Art Filter Photo Editor

- Fill Art Photo Editor

- ArtFlipPhotoEditing

- Art Filter

- Cartoon Art Photo

- Prizma Photo Effect

- Cartoon Art Photo Filter

- Art Filter Photo Editor

- Pixture

- Art Effect

- Photo Art Effect

- Cartoon Photo Filter