The first Android malicious app using the Kotlin programming language has been discovered on the Google Play Store. The app known as Swift Cleaner was downloaded between 1,000 and 5,000 times before eventually being shut down by Google.
Kotlin is an open-source programming langue that has become more and more popular ever since Google made it a first-class language for writing Android apps back in May of 2017. As a result, an increasing number of developers have started to embrace it since then and today major apps like Netflix, Pinterest, and Twitter can be found using Kotlin. But while some developers are using the programming language to improve their apps, others have started to use it for malicious purposes. According to a recent report by Trend Micro, the first malicious Android app using Kotlin has already been found on the Google Play Store posing under the name of Swift Cleaner.
At first glance, you’d be excused for mistaking Swift Cleaner as just another utility tool used for optimizing Android devices. Upon closer inspection, however, it appears that this is a malicious app that can cause serious harm to devices. Swift Cleaner has been found to be capable of information theft, sending SMS, URL forwarding, remote command execution, and click ad fraud. The report indicates that Swift Cleaner currently has somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 installs, though it’s difficult to tell in what ways users have been affected by the malware.
Even more concerning is the fact that Swift Cleaner is apparently capable of also signing up users for premium SMS services without their knowledge. Unbeknownst to its victims, The Kotlin-powered malicious app can even upload personal information to the user’s service provider and bypass CAPTCHA image tests. Needless to say, subscribing to a premium SMS service isn’t free and will end up costing users a pretty penny if they fail to notice the malware in time. In addition to that, Swift Cleaner can also force devices to click on various ads, which in turn can lead to even more malware being downloaded on the device.
Upon discovering the malware, Google was quick to act and has since removed Swift Cleaner from the app store. The company also stated that Google Play will be able to protect users from this malware family in the future. As always, though, it’s a good idea to be cautious whenever you download an Android app from an unknown third-party developer even if the reviews are good. Fortunately, there are a number of legit mobile security solutions out there that can ward off various types of malware and prevent them from reaching your device in the first place.