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Author Topic: Random Android apps getting installed  (Read 1672 times)

Deozaan

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Random Android apps getting installed
« on: August 17, 2020, 01:50 PM »
Hi folks,

I recently got a hand-me-down Android device which I performed a factory reset on and then set it up how I like it.

But I've been noticing every once in a while that there are new apps installed that I never installed. Sometimes they're games, sometimes they are non-game apps. Usually they are things I've never heard of, but I've seen a few popular apps such as TikTok. In any case, they're always crap I'd never install.

I don't know if this is a "feature" like how Windows 10 will put new things in the Start menu every so often, or the perhaps more likely scenario that this device has some kind of rootkit malware on it that allows it to install apps without my permission and can survive a factory reset.

The previous owner of the device was not very tech savvy and it wouldn't surprise me if she had installed some malicious app disguised as a game from the Google Play Store which set this behavior in motion.

But I also haven't had a new Android device since 2013 so I'm not sure if this is intended device vendor behavior.

The device is a Motorola Moto Z2.

Any useful suggestions or solutions on how to stop this behavior would be appreciated.

mouser

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2020, 02:28 PM »
My Samsung Android phone has certain apps that I simply cannot delete or stop from upgrading.  Very annoying.

Deozaan

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2020, 04:12 PM »
My Samsung Android phone has certain apps that I simply cannot delete or stop from upgrading.  Very annoying.

This is not the same thing. This is apps that aren't there one day, and then suddenly appear the next. And I can easily uninstall them as normal. It's just that they (or others) come back again after a while.

wraith808

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2020, 05:37 PM »
Is one of the apps that you do have installed installing them? 

Deozaan

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2020, 06:27 PM »
Is one of the apps that you do have installed installing them? 

I've gone through all the apps and uninstalled or disabled everything I can that I didn't specifically ask to install or don't use. I'm certain it's nothing that I've put on the device because I've used all these same apps on other Android devices and don't get mystery installs happening on those devices.

I'm just unsure if it's some built-in Motorola software/OS customization that the vendor has hidden from me or if it's a rootkit/malware.

Actually, in either case, this behavior should be considered malware even if it was intentionally put there by the device manufacturer.

I suppose I may have to just manually download and flash the official ROM or some custom firmware to eliminate a potential rootkit.

4wd

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2020, 10:51 PM »
If it's Verizon branded, does this help?

Actually, even if it isn't Verizon branded, you can try disabling the Mobile Services Manager.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2020, 10:59 PM by 4wd »

Deozaan

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2020, 11:33 PM »
If it's Verizon branded, does this help?

Actually, even if it isn't Verizon branded, you can try disabling the Mobile Services Manager.

Yes, it is Verizon branded. I see I have Mobile Services Manager disabled already, but I can't remember if I disabled it before or after the last time I had random apps show up.

Thanks for the information. :Thmbsup: Hopefully this is the end of random apps showing up on this device, but I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for further misbehavior.

erikts

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2020, 08:17 AM »
My Samsung Android phone has certain apps that I simply cannot delete or stop from upgrading.  Very annoying.

IIRC, You can disable such app

Deozaan

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Re: Random Android apps getting installed
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2020, 10:07 AM »
Hopefully this is the end of random apps showing up on this device, but I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for further misbehavior.

As a follow up, I haven't seen any new random apps being installed since making sure the Mobile Services Manager was disabled. :Thmbsup: