Google Play Store also infested with malicious Authenticator Apps

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 27, 2023
Google Android

Last week, app developers discovered malicious Authenticator apps in Apple's App Store. Now, they report that similar fake authenticator applications are also found on the Google Play store.

fake authenticator app google play

The primary purpose of Authenticator apps is to improve security. They add a second layer to the authenticator process, usually by generating temporary codes that users need to enter during the sign-in process. Authenticator apps are also used to confirm transactions, e.g., when using brokerage services.

There are so many authenticator apps available, that it may be difficult to pick the right one. You can check out or list of top authenticator apps for Android and iOS as a guide.

Authenticator apps prevent brute force attacks against accounts and password phishing, unless the second factor authentication is also taken into account.

Big tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft or Google have developed authenticator apps that users may use. There are third-party applications available as well, which may offer better functionality or designs, when compared to these.

Fake Authenticator apps

It is difficult to gain access to a user's Authenticator app, as device access is required for that. The stealing of codes is also problematic, as they are only valid for a short period of time.

If, however, the authenticator app or secrets are controlled by a malicious actor, it is providing them with the means to generate codes directly, even when the user device is offline or not on at all.

The QR code contains the seed, or secret, that is used by the Authenticator app to generate one-time passwords, also known as TOTP, Time-based One-Time Passwords.

Last week's report about malicious authenticator applications on Apple's App Store appears to have been just the tip of the iceberg. Now Mysk, the researchers who revealed the existence of fake apps on Apple's store, confirm that Google's Play store is also plagued by fake authenticator apps.

They highlight one of the fake applications on their Twitter account in particular: Authenticator App: 2FA & MFA.

The app had over 500,000 downloads on Google Play and an average rating of 3.8 at the time of the post. The malicious app is still available on Google Play, but its rating has dropped to 3.0 in the meantime. It is also returned as one of the first results for certain user searches on Google Play.

The application that Mysk analyzed functions like a regular authenticator app on first glance. Users may scan QR codes, which services display on their sites, using the app to generate one-time codes for those sites and services. Behind the scenes, the app sends the QR codes to a remote server, according to Mysk.

With the code in their possession, the malicious actors may generate codes for the linked service at any time by just scanning it in any authenticator app. While they do need access to a user's primary password and username as well, they have rendered the second layer of defense useless for that particular service, and any other the user adds to the service.

The app in question included a 3-day free trial, but it asked users to subscribe to unlock the full functionality.

Closing Words

As a regular user, it is almost impossible to know whether an authenticator application is legitimate or malicious. It is a good idea to ignore application store search options to find security apps, and pick an app from a selection of trusted companies and developers instead.

Google Play Store also infested with malicious Authenticator Apps
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Google Play Store also infested with malicious Authenticator Apps
Fake and malicious authenticator apps are also available on the official Android apps store Google Play.
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  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm


    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm


    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am

        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am


    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm


    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.

    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

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