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Past Android malicious software spied on smartphone users or took photos for ransom, but a new type of malware could be the worst that security researchers have reported. The "trojanized adware" has infected 20,000 apps, and transforms into genuine versions of popular software such as Facebook and Twitter. Some reports reveal it is nearly impossible to remove, and could make it more practical for victims to purchase a new mobile device.

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The malware was reported by the security firm Lookout on November 4, Wednesday. Researchers discovered 20,000 cases of three bits of malware named Shedun, ShiftyBug, and Shuanet, which all use similar code and methods to infect smartphones.

Most of the malware was installed at a third-party app store. They then convert into genuine versions of popular apps, including Candy Crush, Facebook, Google Now, NYTimes, Snapchat, and WhatsApp, according to Yahoo.  

These new malicious apps are a big threat because they produce little activity. The goal is to use system-level access to deliver other malware and adware to the infected device, which creates a threat to the security and privacy of the user's online browsing, according to Mashable.

It gets worse. After the phone's operating system gets infected with the malware, it is almost impossible to remove. Lookout reported in a blog post that it might require the smartphone owner to buy a new handset.

One option would be to reflash the unit's ROM chip, although it is a very difficult technical trick. Another choice would be to get professional help. The best way to avoid the malware is to only install Google Play apps, while Amazon would also likely be a safe source.

The trojans have been discovered in several parts of the world. They include the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Iran, India, and Indonesia.