Delete These Scammy Android Apps That Drove 382M Downloads


Whenever we post “delete these apps” stories, we invariably see comments claiming that the malware apps in question are so bizarre and pointless, you’d have to be the dumbest Android user on Earth to download them in the first place (or something to that effect).

According to a new report from VPNpro, the Chinese company Shenzhen Hawk appears to have launched 24 different sketchy apps into the Google Play Store that have racked up a total of 382 million downloads. While you might not have been suckered into installing one onto your device, plenty of people were. And these apps all didn’t come from Shenzhen Hawk directly; the company used a number of different app developer names to obfuscate its motives.

While not all of these apps were as mischievous as the others, a number of them asked for specific permissions that exceeded what the app likely needed. For example, an antivirus scanner app might have asked to access your Android camera—not something we would expect it to need, were it only scanning files on your phone.

As Forbes’ Zak Doffman describes:

Of the 24 apps listed in the report, six request access to a user’s camera and two to the phone itself, meaning they can place calls. 15 of the apps can access a user’s GPS location and read data on external storage, while 14 can collect and return details of a user’s phone and network. One of the apps can record audio on the device or its own servers, another can access a user’s contacts.


Once installed, these apps can communicate with an external server controlled by their developers. By retrieving location and user details, the lowest risk is that this fuels targeted marketing, with user data sold to advertisers who will then be able to personalise unwanted ads for those users. Those servers are in China, and at least one of those apps—Weather Forecast—was reportedly sending user data there. The permissions granted would enable premium calls to be made, websites to be visited and additional malware to be downloaded onto a device.

Here are all the crappy apps you should delete

It’ll take all of one minute or so to check your phone and make sure you don’t have any of the scammy apps from Shenzhen HAWK—or the various app developer names it uses. Google has removed all 24 apps in question from the Google Play Store, but you’ll have to uninstall them manually. They won’t just disappear from your device.

The apps, ranked in order of downloads, are:

  • Sound Recorder (100M)
  • Super Cleaner (100M)
  • Virus Cleaner 2019 (100M)
  • File Manager (50M)
  • Joy Launcher (10M)
  • Turbo Browser (10M)
  • Weather Forecast (10M)
  • Candy Selfie Camera (10M)
  • Hi VPN, Free VPN (10M)
  • Candy Gallery (10M)
  • Calendar Lite (5M)
  • Super Battery (5M)
  • Hi Security 2019 (5M)
  • Net Master (5M)
  • Puzzle Box (1M)
  • Private Browser (500,000)
  • Hi VPN Pro (500,000)
  • World Zoo (100,000)
  • Word Crossy! (100,000)
  • Soccer Pinball (10,000)
  • Dig it (10,000)
  • Laser Break (10,000)
  • Music Roam (1,000)
  • Word Crush (50)

If any of these look like something you have on your device, you can also check to see whether the developer is one of the following:

  • Tap Sky
  • ViewYeah Studio
  • Hawk App
  • Hi Security
  • Alcatel Innovation Lab
  • Shenzen Hawk

If so, you should delete the offending apps. Don’t dawdle…Read more>>