Fake Samsung app infects millions of Android phones

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A fake third-party app called “Updates for Samsung” with more than 10 million downloads, attempted to trick Android Samsung phone users into paying for their firmware updates.

According to a report from CSIS Security Group, the original Updates for Samsung app was meant to provide operating updates for free. But the hackers used the fake application to infect the users’ devices with malicious codes after downloading the fake application.

Those who used it, were directed to an ad-filled site which tricked users into purchasing a premium subscription for free software.

The app throttled its free download options to 56 KBps, and then offered a $35 premium package to remove those limitations and ensure faster download speeds.

In addition, the process for signing up didn’t use Google’s payment system and payments were redirected to the Updato website.

Detailing how the app worked Aleksejs Kuprins, a security researcher at CSIS Security Group, said

“The app is called Updates for Samsung and pledges to deliver any OS update for any Samsung device ever released. It also offers to unlock phones regardless of the network operator and provides Android-related content from the developer’s website”

“Besides being stuffed with advertisement frameworks and not being affiliated with Samsung (yet distributing their firmware), the app offers paid subscriptions for the downloads of the said firmware. A user can get an annual subscription for Samsung firmware update downloads for a small fee of $34.99.

If you spent money on the premium package, it’s unlikely that you will be refunded. The only thing you can do is delete the app immediately.

Google has removed the app for violating its terms of service.

How to install Samsung updates

Samsung routinely rolls out firmware updates and will notify users that an update is available for installation. You can also do this manually but NOT through an unsupported app.

To find the updates manually, simply go to ‘Settings’ and click on ‘Software Update’. Then select ‘Check For System Updates’. If updates are available, you’ll have the option to download and install.

Only updates found in the Settings menu under ‘Check System For Updates’ are guaranteed to come directly from Samsung and are free of charge.