How Malicious Actors Hide Apps on Their Devices

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When investigating a mobile device, whether a Tablet or Phone examiners should be wary of the many methods that can be used to hide activity. There are applications users can download to hide pictures and settings users can implement to secure their data for both Apple and Android devices.

The simplest step that can be taken to hide apps is disabling lock screen notifications from settings. Apps can also be hidden using App Folders. Folders are often used to organize apps, however, they can be used to hide apps from others. A folder named ‘Games’ may contain images, chats, or email. As an examiner, you may have to manually go through each folder and look through the apps. Apps can also be hidden using Search, so when someone searches for a specific app, even if installed it may not show up. You may also search for specific apps

Purchased apps can also be hidden from the App Store purchase history. To view hidden purchases, you need to go to the App Store -> tap the profile icon -> tap the Apple ID (a password may be required) -> tap on hidden purchases.

In the Samsung galaxy, phones come pre-installed with a ‘Secure Folder’. If the user has this folder set up, the examiner may need to get inside of it and will need either the pin or password to get in. This ‘Secure Folder’ can contain anything the user does not want others to see like pictures, emails, or apps.

Further, there are several applications available on both the Play Store and App Store, which offer services to hide other apps within; some apps are even disguised as other apps. Some applications in the stores include:

  1. Nova Launcher Primes
  2. Apex Launcher
  3. App Lock
  4. Calculator Vault
  5. Locker: Hide Photos, Hide Apps
  6. Secret | Photo Vault
  7. Secret Vault Hide Photos
  8. App Hider
  9. Dialer Vault-AppHider
  10. Secret Folder App Lock


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