Google Discovered Malware Apps in Play Store That Were Downloaded More than 500,000 Times

The good news is that Google took immediate action to remove thirteen malware apps from the Play Store. The bad news is a researcher didn’t discover these apps until after they were downloaded at least 500,000 times.

Researcher Discovers Malware Apps

These apps included car and truck simulations as well as a few that were featured in the Play Store’s trending section. But all these apps were able to secretly install malware on the users’ devices, and all of them were created by the same developer.

A report from NDTV Gadgets said, “The apps not only showed no legitimate functionality but also hid in the handsets to make it easier to install malware.

“In a tweet ESET security researcher Lukas Shefanko revealed details about the thirteen malicious apps discovered in the Google Play Store. He claimed that these apps containing Android malware were downloaded over 560,000 times. Interestingly, all the apps listed a single developer named Luiz Pinto.”

Shefanko tweeted a picture of the 13 apps on November 19 and wrote, “Don’t install these apps from Google Play – it’s malware,” then listed the stats mentioned above.


The games mostly showed up games, one was a luxury car driving simulator, but they didn’t work as such. The apps crashed every time they were launched.

Thumbnail images had graphics that made the apps seem legitimate. Shefanko’s tweet said the apps would ask to install an additional APK. Additionally, he posted videos that showed how the apps worked.

But this isn’t the first time a large number of Android users were affected by malware found in the Play Store.

“Last year an auto-clicking adware called Judy was discovered on forty-one apps and said to have affected between 8.5 million and 36.5 million Android devices,” added the NDTV article. “Also, another botnet malware called FalseGuide had reportedly infected millions of Android devices via Google Play.”


This appears to be something that Google struggles with. They previously stated that in 2017 they pulled more than 700,000 malicious apps from the Play Store. This doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence in the Play Store or in Google.

Have you ever downloaded an app from the Play Store that installed malware on your system? Does this report change how you feel about Google, Android, or the Play Store? Let us know how you feel about malware apps being found on the Play Store in the comments section.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. But you guys tell me I don’t need a security app on my Android if I only use the Google app Store…….
    BitDefender dealt with this threat on one of the family devices without a fuss recently

  2. The article has an interesting tagline — but don’t you think it should list the apps that were found to be malware?

    1. The article that is linked to here includes a tweet that has a picture of the 13 apps that were found to be malware.

  3. Malware on the Google App Store is just one of the reasons why I’ll never own a Google Spy Phone.

  4. I have an Android phone….but you know what?…..I don’t install apps from the Google Play Store, I don’t play games on my phone, I use my phone…AS a PHONE!…I send a few texts to family and friends and that’s about it. This ridiculous idea that a phone should be a gaming device?….is stupid. They’re even selling phones who’s sole purpose is to PLAY games!?…(like the Razer “Gaming” Phone…really!!!???) If I want to play games?…I’ll sit down on my comfortable couch, with a Pepsi and some popcorn, and play games to my heart’s content….on either my PS4 or my XBox One X…but I don’t understand why people are insistent on installing games on their phones, and then complaining when it becomes sluggish, and freezes or slows down to the point of having to reboot. IT’S A PHONE!….it’s only got either 4 – 6 – 8GB of RAM….it is NOT a laptop or a desktop (which can hold 16 / 32 / 64 GB or RAM) and its got a SMALL SCREEN what pleasure is there trying to decipher if what you’re looking at is a tree or an enemy waiting to open fire? Its just stupid. So installing all these apps for gaming or what did the article say a “Luxury car driving simulator”….are you freekin’ KIDDING me!?. Its no WONDER these app creators can catch so many people and infect so many devices! I guess those that know….KNOW…and those that don’t?…well they’ll be trying to “clean up” their phones and hoping they don’t have any remnants of malware on their devices. As for me?…the apps that already come with Android are enough, Maps/GPS….text Messaging…and the ability to USE the damn PHONE…as a PHONE! If You’re so naive that you’ll install a bunch of apps that will take up space and could potentially contain malware?…well maybe its not as much the fault of the developers who MADE the malware……but the fault of those who INSTALL it? Just my observations.

    And yes, I realize you SHOULD be able to install some software and not be inundated with all kinds of malicious programs running in the background, but if we lived in a world where everything worked as it SHOULD? Then the Internet Security companies that exist wouldn’t be in business now WOULD they? Listen….its not hard….stop installing apps from the Play Store, if its an app you NEED (as in the case of you having children and need some kind of app that will allow you to monitor their whereabouts or something else along those lines) then by all means install it, but also have the diligence to install anti-virus and other malware removal tools as well. but to install app after app and expect that Google will protect you?…is foolish.

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