According to a new report by McAfee, cyber criminals are growing their capabilities to target smartphones by hiding certain apps.

In the report, they found that thousands of apps are actively hiding after installation that can generate money for the developer.

“There is a growing trend for certain apps to hide themselves, stealing precious resources and data from mobile devices that are the passport to our digital world,” Chief Scientist Raj Samani wrote. “And it is a growing threat, with almost half of all malware on the mobile platform consisting of hidden apps.”

New malware called LeifAccess or Shopper help cyber criminals monetize cybercrime by taking advantage of accessibility features in Android phones to create accounts, download more apps, and post reviews. In the U.S. alone, 943 global LeifAccess detections have been made since May 2019—when the malware was first detected.

“2020 is looking like the year of mobile sneak attacks. Last year, cybercriminals and nation-states increased their mobile attacks with a wide variety of methods, from backdoors to mining cryptocurrencies,” the report said.

To limit exposure and risk, McAfee recommends that users do the following:

  • Stay on the app stores as a majority of attack downloads appear to come from social media, fake ads, and unofficial app services;
  • Read reviews with a critical eye;
  • Use security software to protect data and privacy from cyberthreats;
  • Update software as developers are actively working to identify security issues; and
  • Monitor your IDs to be aware of changes or actions that weren’t made by you.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.