New research tells the beautification apps from both Playstore and Appstore are apparently growing with data-stealing codes. And the latest findings reveal the popular names if this realm like YouCam, Beauty Plus, Selfie Cam, B612 etc are asking more permissions than they need and are stealing data from users to help developers earn money.
Cybernews, the ones who researched used the keyword “beauty camera” in stores to list out all the apps displayed relevantly. The research’s methodology is simple. Cybernews reviewed apps by a number of permissions asked, apps malware history and developers location. And the ones surfaced maliciously are these:
- BeautyPlus – Easy Photo Editor & Selfie Camera
- Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera
- Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
- Beauty Camera Plus – Sweet Camera Makeup Photo
- Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera & Photo Editor
- YouCam Perfect – Best Selfie Camera & Photo Editor
- Sweet Snap – Beauty Selfie Camera & Face Filter
- Sweet Selfie Snap – Sweet Camera, Beauty Cam Snap
- Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera with Photo Editor
- Beauty Camera – Best Selfie Camera & Photo Editor
- B612 – Beauty & Filter Camera
- Face Makeup Camera & Beauty Photo Makeup Editor
- Sweet Selfie – Selfie Camera & Makeup Photo Editor
- Selfie camera – Beauty Camera & Makeup camera
- YouCam Perfect – Best Photo Editor & Selfie Camera
- Beauty Camera Makeup Face Selfie, Photo Editor
- Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera
- Z Beauty Camera
- HD Camera Selfie Beauty Camera
- Candy Camera – selfie, beauty camera, photo editor
- Makeup Camera-Selfie Beauty Filter Photo Editor
- Beauty Selfie Plus – Sweet Camera Wonder HD Camera
- Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & AR Stickers
- Pretty Makeup, Beauty Photo Editor & Selfie Camera
- Beauty Camera
- Bestie – Camera360 Beauty Cam
- Photo Editor – Beauty Camera
- Beauty Makeup, Selfie Camera Effects, Photo Editor
- Selfie cam – bestie makeup beauty camera & filters
All these apps, in total, are having a download count of more than 1.4 billion! Thinking what they’d do scraping all this data? Selling to third parties like advertisers or other developers can earn him fine lump sums. Analysts estimate that a minor app with just 1000 users can earn the developer at least $4 a month. Imagine how much a developer with millions of users can earn. These apps send coordinates of the phone/person to broker/developer thousands of times a day, which can help to segregate them accordingly and to target with ads.
Cybernews finds out that, all these apps are asking an average of 5 permissions before working, which is suspicious. Around 16 of the reviewed apps are based in Hong Kong or China and are developed by those who have malware history.
Other malicious behaviours as opening camera even without permission, installing malware through its software. At last, there’s an app the asked for 40 permissions to even function and one is accused of sending pornographic content and redirecting them to phishing sites.
Even the top-ranked app developer Meitu was accused of spreading malware through its apps. Meitu’s popular beautification app has more than 300 million installs in Playstore! Imagine the scale of a breach it’s doing.
Google’s Play Protect and other inbuilt softwares scan for potential malware before installing onto the phone, but the developers are constantly improving their techniques to avoid detection. So remember, any beautification app doesn’t need more permissions than storage and camera. So if your app is asking permissions for location or microphone, uninstall it straight away.