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Science
10 Jan 2019

9 million Android users downloaded fake, adware-packed apps: Details here

Over nine million Android users downloaded adware

The problem of bad apps sneaking into Google Play Store is far from over.

Just a few days back, researchers at Trend Micro flagged a bunch of apps capable of stealing data from Android.

And now, they have found a batch of as many as 85 apps that did nothing but serve adware to over nine million Android users.

Here's what happened.

In context

Over nine million Android users downloaded adware
Apps, games served ads on Android

Adware details

Apps, games served ads on Android

Free apps can serve ads because that's the only way for their developers to earn money and sustain their business models.

But, at times, shady app-makers use this trick and turn to adware to flood users' phones with ads and generate a quick buck.

This is exactly what Trend Micro researchers witnessed after analyzing 85 apps, including popular racing games and TV simulators.

App behavior

Adware displayed full-screen, hidden ads

All 85 apps, downloaded over nine million times, came from different developers but shared the same code.

Their behavior was also pretty similar; users were shown a full-screen ad after every single action to see the main content of the apps.

Plus, after displaying ads a few times, some apps disappeared and hid their icon to keep running and display automatic pop-up ads.

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Pop-ad behavior was slightly different

Some apps displayed pop-up ads on the infected device after a set 15-30 minutes, while others were coded to show full-screen ads after every screen unlock. Also, one app from the flagged batch, dubbed 'Easy Universal TV Remote', was downloaded 5 million times.

Why such apps are risky?

Risk

Why such apps are risky?

Apps like these are not as dangerous as those capable of phishing user details or stealing their files using malware.

But, they do disrupt the Android experience and can even be malicious sometimes.

As TechCrunch explains, some ads could carry a hidden code which may trick unsuspecting Android users into installing malware on their devices.

It could then compromise your security.

Google's action

Fake apps removed, but question remains

Google was quick to act on Trend Micro's report and remove all adware-based apps.

However, the company has not commented on the matter or explained how the apps managed to sneak into the store in the first place.

This has been a major problem for Google, which, despite trying hard to improve its back-end moderation practices, is still letting some apps to sneak through.

Ask NewsBytes
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Most asked questions

How to find reliable apps on Android?

Are such apps present on iOS?

How can malware steal data from phones?

What is phishing?

More questions

How to find reliable apps on Android?

Asked on 10-01-2019 by Pranav Pillai

Answered by NewsBytes

To find reliable Android apps, check reviews and ratings before installing an app. Also, visit its developer's website to verify its authenticity, if possible.

Are such apps present on iOS?

Asked on 10-01-2019 by Charvi Subramanium

Answered by NewsBytes

In comparison to Android, very few cases appear on iOS devices, thanks to Apple's stringent moderation policies.

How can malware steal data from phones?

Asked on 10-01-2019 by Pari Rodrigues

Answered by NewsBytes

A malware can connect to a remote server and take commands from it to steal confidential data from your Android phone.

What is phishing?

Asked on 10-01-2019 by Diya Patel

Answered by NewsBytes

Phishing is the practice where attackers use fake pages to trick users into giving away their confidential emails and passwords.

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