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Selfie Android Apps Push Ads and Record Audio

Two selfie Android apps available on the Google Play store include functionality that records audio without the user’s consent. Both apps pose as selfie camera filters and have been installed over 1.5 million times. The primary activity of the apps is not to spy on users but to aggressively push adware that covers the screen of the Android device. The two apps are Sun Pro Beauty Camera, which has over one million installations, and Funny Sweet Beauty Selfie Camera, which has over 500,000 installations. Apart from the normal permissions required by any app that needs camera access, there were some troubling ones. Among them were SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW, which allows the app to overlay arbitrary content. This function could be used for clickjacking purposes or to fool users into inputting personal information. Another worrying permission is RECORD_AUDIO, which allows the app to record audio without the user’s knowledge. Research also found that both apps allow for the use of very intrusive adware.

Analyst Notes

Both apps were reported to Google and they have both been removed from the Google Play Store. Users are recommended to remove these apps from all devices. If normal removal is ineffective, then the user should check for their presence in the Android Settings menu, under Apps, and remove from there.