Home Geeky Scoop Top 5 Popular yet Harmful Apps that shouldn’t be on your phone.

Top 5 Popular yet Harmful Apps that shouldn’t be on your phone.

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Apps make our lives easy, yet there are harmful apps in play store which are so popular that they have millions of downloads.
We were appalled to know that there are harmful apps with so many downloads yet legitimate concerns. Today we bring you the Top 5 Android Apps that you shouldn’t be on your phone. These apps are popular, but they are actually bad for your device and privacy.

Culprit App #1 ES File Explorer

ES File Explorer was de facto mobile version of windows explorer, but that was about six to seven years ago. It has one pay version and a free version, there are no known issues with the paid version, but the free version has a plethora of bloatware and adware which install harmful apps on your phone.
Picture1-min
ES Explorer Ad on lock screen
Image Credit AndroidPit
You can not disable notification bar pop ups, it will randomly sneak up and ask you to install some stupid app you will ever need. Even if you are browsing your own phone an ad might pop up to trick you into clicking it and installing apps. Solid Explorer, FX File Explorer and Cabinet are few good alternatives to ES Explorer.

Culprit App #2 QuickPic

QuickPic is a simple Gallery app and it was good until it was caught red handed transferring client data to their own servers. It still has 4.6 Rating on Android Play store with ten to fifty million downloads. In 2015 users across android fan base started discovering unusual DNS requests from their phone.
Picture2-min
DNS Requests by Quick Pic
Image Credit Aidan Bennett
As it turned out that these requests were made by QuickPic, the free software was just one of the many harmful apps. The analysis was performed on the QuickPic and it was sending data to Cheetah Mobile servers.
Cheetah mobile bought QuickPic in 2015 and after that QuickPic v4.5.3 was released, since then the app had an inbuilt system to transfer data to Cheetah mobile servers. We recommend you not to use this app if you still want to use this particular app use this neutered version of QuickPic.
The Alternatives: You can use Gallery App of pure android that is good enough for pictures or you can use Google Picasa, Piktures app for android, these apps are pretty good and do not steal data, at least they will ask you before stealing it.

Culprit App # 3 UC Browser

If you are an android user from India or China then you have either used this app at least once, or you have at least heard about this app from friends or family. The popularity of UC Browser is because of two reasons, the biggest reason is that it lets users download the video. The second reason for its popularity is that it markets itself as a “Data Saver Browser”, UC Browser Claims that it compresses data before sending or receiving, so it minimizes the data usage. UC Browser has been in the android market since 2005, and those were the times when data was expensive as hell, it’s not that data is cheap now but back then it was extremely expensive.
So these marketing strategies helped UC establish themselves in Android User market. Anyone using android since 2005 is most likely using UC Browser till now, even if they have the latest Android on their handset. So, it has been on Android since its inception, the first UC Browser was developed in J2ME, it’s that old. So it has presence since the beginning of time and their development team has enough resources and knowledge to work around almost any restriction that Google has placed in Android, that too without telling you, they are that good.
Issue: So what’s bad about it, it is a browser, it is free, there are bound to be some sort of advertisement, right?… Wrong! The thing with UC Browser is that it shamelessly and irresponsibly shares your critical data with companies just like those harmful apps we were talking about. This data involves your IMEI Number, IMSI Number, Android ID, Wi-Fi MAC address and user’s geolocation.
The companies with which UC shares its data has some big names as well, these big names are Umeng, which is an analytical tool developed and maintained by and for Alibaba and AMAP which is a mapping tool also a tool used for and developed by Alibaba only. Some minor issues are related to searches like it sends user queries to Yahoo and Google without encryption.
The Alternatives: The usual alternatives involve Chrome and Firefox these are not harmful apps, but if you are particularly paranoid about privacy use Tor Browser with Tor bundle.
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Culprit App # 4 Dolphin Web Browser

What is it with TechScoop and their witch hunt against Android web browsers? You might say! But it’s not a witch hunt. Web browsers are a new breed of advertisement frenzy and they easily get top in no go list of Android Apps if there is a single concern of privacy. Information is power and web browser like Dolphin are a master tracker of information, you may call them the bushman of information tracking.Only thing I liked in this browser was that it was completely ad free but how does it get its revenue. It has 150 million plus downloads, and how they are managing a server with a free application?

There were some privacy concerns with Dolphin web browser but then they encrypted their outgoing data and now we don’t know what they are transferring to their servers.
Issue: Issue is that it’s an ad free browser, but asks for following permissions
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE
android.permission.ACCESS_WIFI_STATE
android.permission.com.android.launcher.permission.INSTALL_SHORTCUT
android.permission.INTERNET
android.permission.WAKE_LOCK
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.com.android.browser.permission.READ_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS
android.permission.com.android.browser.permission.WRITE_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS
android.permission.mobi.mgeek.TunnyBrowser.permission.READ_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS
android.permission.mobi.mgeek.TunnyBrowser.permission.WRITE_HISTORY_BOOKMARK
android.permission.com.dolphin.browser.permission.ACCESS_PROVIDER
android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO
android.permission.SET_PREFERRED_APPLICATIONS
android.permission.VIBRATE
android.permission.SET_WALLPAPER
android.permission.READ_LOGS
android.permission.RECEIVE_BOOT_COMPLETED

 

Most of these permissions are not required by a standard web browser and may be used for uniquely identifying you for targeted advertisement. The DNS look up information is not deleted even if you clear the cache.  So be wise and get rid of it.
Alternatives: Firefox, Chrome and Orbot.

Culprit App # 5 Clean Master and basically every app from Cheetah Mobile

Clean Master is an app that marketed as a “Junk Cleaner” for your mobile, which supposedly increases your mobile’s performance by getting rid of junk files that your mobile doesn’t need. This is a long standing myth which has been debunked more than once. Apps on your mobile require data for proper functioning, in order to speed up things, apps maintain that data in the cache, they could download it or it could be a database of processed information or logs.
This information is used more than often by apps if you delete this data, apps require to download or process them again. So basically you undo the work done by apps. Android has the inbuilt functionality of collecting back memory when required, it’s called “Garbage Collection”. Garbage collection involves claiming back the memory that is not being used by apps.
Apart from garbage collection, Android has evolved a lot, it’s not old jellybean now, it has much more advanced features for memory management. No mod of Android could best Stock Android in performance so avoid performance enhancing apps as much as possible.
Issue: Apart from being useless Clean Master also involved in regular shenanigans of Cheetah Mobile. The clean master also requires a lot of permission that it does not require since it is just an app for cleaning away files, why does it require these many permissions.
android.permission.GET_TASKS
android.permission.GET_PACKAGE_SIZE
android.permission.CLEAR_APP_CACHE
android.permission.com.android.browser.permission.READ_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS
android.permission.com.android.browser.permission.WRITE_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE
android.permission.ACCESS_WIFI_STATE
android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE
android.permission.SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW
android.permission.com.android.launcher.permission.INSTALL_SHORTCUT
android.permission.com.android.launcher.permission.UNINSTALL_SHORTCUT
android.permission.com.android.launcher.permission.READ_SETTINGS
android.permission.com.android.launcher.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS
android.permission.com.android.launcher3.permission.READ_SETTINGS
android.permission.com.android.launcher3.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS
android.permission.RESTART_PACKAGES
android.permission.INTERNET
android.permission.MOUNT_UNMOUNT_FILESYSTEMS
android.permission.WAKE_LOCK
android.permission.BATTERY_STATS
android.permission.BROADCAST_STICKY
android.permission.VIBRATE
android.permission.GET_ACCOUNTS
android.permission.CHANGE_WIFI_STATE
android.permission.CHANGE_NETWORK_STATE
android.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS
android.permission.EXPAND_STATUS_BAR
android.permission.CAMERA
android.permission.MODIFY_AUDIO_SETTINGS
android.permission.com.android.alarm.permission.SET_ALARM
android.permission.PACKAGE_USAGE_STATS
android.permission.com.google.android.c2dm.permission.RECEIVE
android.permission.com.cleanmaster.mguard.permission.C2D_MESSAGE
android.permission.INTERNET
android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE
android.permission.ACCESS_WIFI_STATE
android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS
android.permission.BIND_JOB_SERVICE
android.permission.BIND_JOB_SERVICE
android.permission.BIND_JOB_SERVICE
android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE
android.permission.BIND_NOTIFICATION_LISTENER_SERVICE

 

A lot of these permissions are required for gathering data, an app that needs to delete files doesn’t require to access the camera, read phone state, set alarm, read notification from other non-harmful apps, these are just casual sign of data collection. Just uninstall this app and another app by the same publisher and you will notice a fall in relevant advertisements.Alternative:  We would recommend you not to use any RAM Cleaner app, as mentioned earlier, they are essentially useless. If you want to get rid of large files from your mobile you can use default app given by Android or File Commander.

See Also

Top 5 Illegal Hacking Android Apps

Disclaimer: The Android Apps discussed in this article are seriously just for educational purpose. We don’t encourage any misuse of the android apps discussed in this article and if you use any of the app in any illegal matter then you will be responsible for it.

 

Verdict

During our research we find out that apps from Cheetah Mobile have particularly gained a bad rapport in Android community, A lot of tech websites do recommend apps like clean master, DU App, UC Browser, and other apps that are already on this list, and naïve users do install these harmful apps not knowing what they are getting into. Best way to protect yourself from such apps is to be careful, remember guys, there is no such thing as free lunch. All you can do is a reasonable tradeoff with free apps.
If you liked our research do share this article with friends and family. Comment below if you have any concerns or questions. Stay safe.

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