Do you use the popular Android app, “Barcode Scanner?” If so, you’re certainly not alone. The app has racked up more than 10 million downloads on Google’s Play Store and is one of the most popular apps in its class.

It’s a simple, straightforward bit of code that does exactly what it sounds like it does, which is why so many people have come to rely on it over the years.

Unfortunately, Google recently pulled the plug, removing the app from the store after it had been there for years. The reason? Sometime during December 2020, an update to the code saw the injection of malware.

Many users give the apps they use regularly a fairly free hand when it comes to downloading and installing updates. In this case, if you let your Barcode Scanner auto-update, the update installed a nasty Trojan on your smartphone that allows hackers complete control over the device. Not good.

Among other things being reported by users who have been impacted by the update are:

  • Default browser changing
  • New default browser opening with no user intervention and surfing to different, usually ad-intensive pages.
  • And displaying ads touting the supposed benefits of other apps that are thought to contain malware.

As bad as those things are, they’re not as bad as they could be. Had the malware’s owners wished, they could have done significantly more damage than that.

Even so, the app has rightly been pulled from the Play Store and if you have it installed on your phone but haven’t allowed it an update in a while, your best bet is to uninstall it and find an alternative that’s not brimming with malicious code. Kudos to Google for taking swift action, even if it meant the sudden end of an app with a multi-year history as a safe, reliable product.

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