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6 Popular Android Apps That Are Ruining Your Phone

Security experts warn the programs are actually malware in disguise.

While there's no denying that the smartphone in your pocket is capable of many things, there's nothing worse than being stuck with a device that's not working at peak performance. Whether you're trying to get the very last miles out of a years-old model or have subjected it to a few too many accidental drops, it can sometimes feel like an impossible task to keep one in good working order for very long. But besides wear and tear, there are a few things you might be doing that could be slowing down your device—including downloading the wrong software. And now, security experts are warning that six popular Android apps could be ruining your phone. Read on to see which problematic programs you should get rid of immediately.

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A lot of work goes into keeping misleading or dangerous apps off your phone.

A young man using an Android phone in a coffee shop

Your physical smartphone is a technological marvel, capable of making calls, sending messages, and even snapping high-quality photos with just a few taps. But besides what they're built to do out of the box, users are also now accustomed to downloading all kinds of third-party apps and programs that can make the devices' capabilities practically limitless.

Unfortunately, the same process that can make your phone even more useful can expose it to potentially harmful software. Organizers of Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store rigorously check programs to help protect customers from nefarious software that can compromise personal information or even flat-out steal money from unsuspecting users. Such diligence can pay off: Earlier this year, Google said that it had blocked 1.2 million apps from its marketplace for policy violations and banned 190,000 bad accounts, ZDNet reported.

"Last year, we introduced multiple privacy-focused features, enhanced our protections against bad apps and developers, and improved SDK data safety," the company wrote in a blog post in April. "In addition, Google Play Protect continues to scan billions of installed apps each day across billions of devices to keep people safe from malware and unwanted software."

But even with increased protection, some bad programs can still slip through—including a few that were recently discovered.

Security experts warn that six popular Android apps could be ruining your phone.

Holding an Android cellphone
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If your smartphone has been acting slow lately, you may want to check which programs you have downloaded. On Dec. 2, cybersecurity firm Doctor Web announced it had discovered several Android malware apps disguised as helpful programs that were available for download on the Google Play store in October. So far, more than 2 million users have downloaded the damaging software, Bleeping Computer reports.

According to the report, the most used of the apps is called TubeBox with more than one million downloads of its own. The other discovered malware apps are "Bluetooth device auto connect" and "Volume, Music Equalizer" produced by the bt autoconnect group, "Bluetooth & Wi-Fi & USB driver" produced by simple things for everyone, and "Fast Cleaner & Cooling Master" from Hippo VPN LLC.

The company also found a set of apps that claim to be connected to Russian banks and investment firms. But while the programs claimed to provide users with training on how to make quick money on investments, they're just collecting data through a set of surveys and phishing websites customers used to set up accounts.

As of Dec. 5, the programs in question were no longer available for users to download. "All of the apps identified in the report have been removed from Google Play. We take security and privacy seriously, and when we find apps that violate our policies, we take action," a Google spokesperson told Best Life.

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The apps can slow down your device if you have them installed.

a hacker doxing someone online

While some malware functions as Trojan-style programs to steal data or personal information like the set of Russian investment programs, the other recently discovered apps affect devices somewhat differently. TubeBox convinces users to download the program by claiming it will pay cash for watching advertisements and video clips. However, the app will begin to show error messages whenever users attempt to collect their earnings while the app's developers pocket the money generated by the views, according to Dr. Web.

The other apps work similarly by running in the background of your device, where developers can use them to generate fake advertising impressions using your phone. The Fast Cleaner & Cooling Master app even allows developers to turn smartphones into servers where they can route their own traffic. In turn, all of the programs will slow down any Android smartphone and cause performance issues as it struggles with increased data usage, Bleeping Computer warns.

There are a few simple ways to protect yourself from harmful apps and malware.

senior man using android smartphone
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As long as there are phones and computers that rely on software, there will always be a threat of downloading malware. But you can still take specific steps to ensure you don't accidentally put yourself at risk.

Since they provide the most frontline security, it's best only to ever use official app stores to download programs, according to experts at But as the recent malware discovery shows, it is still essential to check that the app has been verified before installing it, including checking the program's description for suspicious typos or negative reviews.

It's also best to constantly check your phone and see if any old or unexpected apps are lingering that you can scrap, Bleeping Computer suggests. Android users can also make sure that Google's Play Protect feature is switched on for their devices, which can actively warn you if you end up downloading any harmful programs.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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