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

Soon after the report, which named 29 such photo editing apps, surfaced, Google Play Store banned the apps for their malicious intents. 

Why Indian users should be concerned? 

The report by Trend Micro said that they discovered several beauty camera apps capable of accessing remote ad configuration servers, which can be used for malicious purposes. Some of these apps are extremely popular and have already been downloaded by millions of users. Moreover, a large number of the download counts originated from Asia — particularly in India.

Difficult to track their intent

What is more shocking is that users might 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 seek personal information, including 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, 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 instance fake profile pics in social media.

How to stay safe

Given that many of these malicious apps make elaborate efforts 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 it.
Here is a full list of the 29 apps that Google Play Store has removed: 

1. Pro Camera Beauty

2. Cartoon Art Photo

3. Emoji Camera

4. Artistic effect Filter

5. Art Editor

6. Beauty Camera

7. Selfie Camera Pro

8. Horizon Beauty Camera

9. Super Camera

10. Art Effects for Photo

11. Awesome Cartoon Art

12. Art Filter Photo

13. Art Filter Photo Effcts

14. Cartoon Effect

15. Art Effect

16. Photo Editor

17. Wallpapers HD

18. Magic Art Filter Photo Editor

19. Fill Art Photo Editor

20. ArtFlipPhotoEditing

21. Art Filter

22. Cartoon Art Photo

23. Prizma Photo Effect

24. Cartoon Art Photo Filter

25. Art Filter Photo Editor

26. Pixture

27. Art Effect

28. Photo Art Effect

29. Cartoon Photo Filter