Over 9 Million Android Users In South Africa, Brazil & Others Infected With Disguised Adware On Google Play

Pappi Hex

It's no news that there are thousands of Android malware infested app available on the open web. To avoid falling in to the den of these apps, Android users are always advised to stick to the Google Play Store which does constant security check and deep scrutiny of apps coming in to the store.

Though Google do keep try to keep the Play Store free of malicious apps, they aren't vigilant enough as all sort of malicious applications keeps slipping in from time to time.

The latest was uncovered by security researchers from Trend Micro who discovered dozens of adware ridden apps masquerading as games, TV, remote control and utility apps.

According to the report Trend Micro (via Tech Crunch), the apps which are 85 in number have received over 9 million downloads on the Google Play Store, and have served tons of deceptive display ads to the unsuspecting Android device owners who made the download.

As seen in the head of this post, those behind the scheme used fake apps in categories such as games, TV, remote control and utility apps. The creators also targeted some regions in generating revenue via the deceptive apps. Such regions includes Canada, South Africa, Brazil, etc. in their free TV channel application that promised free streaming of TV programmes of those regions.

Trend Micro explained that though the apps all came from different adware family, makers and different APK cert public keys, they all shared the same code and as well exhibited the same behaviour when they ran a test on them.

After downloading and lunching the app, a full-screen advert will began with a full-screen advert once the app is opened. After the app has been closed, the next screen will have a button that has "Start" or "Next." Once that button has been pressed, another full screen ad will show up.

If the user closes the ad, another screen would appear with multiple options. Once the user presses anything on the screen, another ad will show up. The app also prompts the user to give it a five-star rating on Google Play. However, if the user clicks on any of the buttons, a full-screen ad will pop-up again. So annoying are these apps that every turn, click or tap pops up an ad.

After all the deceptive twists and ads pop up, the app will finally show that it is in the process of loading or buffering. This loading or buffering will last for just a few seconds and then the app would disappear from the screen, though it will still be running in the device background. The app's icon would also disappear from the phone.

Now, even though the app was hidden, a full-page ad would always appear on the device display every 15 to 30 minutes. Also, ads would appear on the screen whenever the user unlocked his or her device.

As at the time of this post, Google had already kicked the violating apps out of the Play Store. A full list of the 85 apps can be found here.

Last month, Google booted out about 22 malware infested apps from the Play Store after the apps had already received about 2 million downloads. In November last year, Google also removed 13 gaming apps that had already infected over half a million Android users with malware.

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