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Science
13 Jan 2018

Google deletes 60 kids apps, after they showed pornographic content

Google had to delete roughly 60 apps from its Play store after Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point discovered a type of malware dubbed "AdultSwine" which could display pornographic content and other malicious pop-ups on an Android user's smartphone screen.

The infected apps were mostly games and drawing apps aimed at children.

However, the malware will remain in users' phones unless deleted from the devices.

In context

Google deletes malware-affected kids apps from Play store

Google issues statement welcoming Check Point's help

"We've removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers' accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them. We appreciate Check Point's work to help keep users safe," said a Google spokesperson.

Some affected apps had up to 7 million downloads

AdultSwine

Some affected apps had up to 7 million downloads

Check Point found that AdultSwine could not only display pornographic content, but could also trick users into installing fake security apps and signing up for premium SMS services.

The malware had infected around 60 Play Store games with titles like "Drawing Lessons Angry Birds", "Spinner Fidget Toy", "Temple Crash Jungle Bandicoot", etc. some of which had up to 7 million downloads.

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Threats like AdultSwine will always be around

"'AdultSwine' and other similar malware will likely be continually repeated and imitated by hackers. Users should be extra vigilant when installing apps, particularly those intended for use by children," said Check Point.

Security

Policing the Play store is quite a challenge

Despite actively scanning Play store apps for malicious code, Google has found policing its ever-expanding app catalogue challenging.

Google removed the app almost immediately after Check Point notified them.

Although most of the infected apps were aimed at kids, Google said that the apps wouldn't have appeared in the "Designed For Families" section on Google Play where only safe and appropriate ads are posted.

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