Singapore authorities warn of malware risk in downloading apps from untrusted sources

Police and Cyber Security Agency of Singapore caution against downloading suspicious Android/Chrome/Google updates on devices

Protect your device from malware by disabling 'Install Unknown App' or 'Unknown Sources' in your settings.
Protect your device from malware by disabling 'Install Unknown App' or 'Unknown Sources' in your settings. (PHOTO: SPF and CSA)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Police and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) have issued an advisory to warn the public that downloading apps from suspicious sources can lead to malware being installed on your mobile phone, computer, or other devices.

Malware can steal sensitive data, such as banking credentials, and it can infect through many ways - for instance, by downloading apps from unknown sources or opening attachments from unsolicited emails.

If malware is installed, it may significantly decline device performance, allow unauthorised access to the device's system and data, and install unauthorised applications.

To keep one's devices safe, the joint advisory issued on Tuesday (11 April) advised the public to be careful when downloading suspicious Android/Chrome/Google-related updates or any dubious Android Package Kit (APK) files onto their mobile devices, as these files are not official files released by Google.

Some of these dubious files may even come with seemingly genuine naming conventions, such as the following:

  • GooglePlay23Update[.]apk

  • GooglePlay.apkUpdate[.]apk

  • Chrome_update1123[.]apk

  • Chrome-upd13111[.]apk

  • Chrome-update10366[.]apk

Steps to safeguard against malware attacks

To keep devices safe from malware, it is important to only download and install apps from official app stores like Google Play Store for Android.

Before downloading, check the developer info, number of downloads, and user reviews to make sure it is legitimate. Be cautious when clicking on ads within apps, and do not grant permission to pop-ups that request access to your device's hardware or data.

Make sure the device has updated anti-virus/anti-malware apps that can detect and remove malware, and that the operating system and apps are updated regularly with the latest security patches.

If you suspect that your device may be infected with malware, turn on "flight mode" and perform an anti-virus/anti-malware scan.

And if you find any unknown apps, uninstall them immediately, contact the manufacturer for assistance, or reformat the device to factory default if it still shows signs of infection. Before reformatting, back up your device data on an external storage device.

To find out more about mobile malware and preventive steps to keep your mobile devices safe and secure, you can refer to the CSA’ SingCERT advisory.

Spot the Difference: Genuine and Fake Apps on your ICT devices
Spot the Difference: Genuine and Fake Apps on your ICT devices (PHOTO: SPF and CSA)

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