Millions Downloaded Adware on Google Play That Masqueraded As 'Apps'

  • Millions Downloaded Adware on Google Play That Masqueraded As 'Apps'

Millions Downloaded Adware on Google Play That Masqueraded As 'Apps'

We previously reported that Google has removed around 22 fake apps from its Play Store that risked over 2 million users.

The apps, purportedly TV and video players and controllers, would consistently show full-screen ads until they crashed. Moreover, app developers also create false impressions about the installation on the phones and fleece ad agencies of their money. As per security and research firm Trend Micro, more than 9 million people are tricked into downloading 85 apps which just consisted of adware. But the scale of the ecosystem still means trouble for many.

The 85 fake apps discovered and reported by Trend Micro are not the only ones pulling a fast one on Android users. These apps, when installed on the smartphone, displayed full-page ads with every button pressed. They found that these fake apps come from different makers but they exhibited similar behaviours and share the same code. One such app is the Easy Universal TV Remote, the app claims to enable users to use their smartphones in order to control TV. Closing the ad reveals what appears to be an app button ('start, ' "open app, ' 'next") but tapping it triggers another fullscreen ad. The adware-infected app then informs the user that it is loading or buffering, and after a few seconds, it disappears from the user's screen and hides its icon on the device.

This shows that you don't have to download every app that is being offered on Google Play if it has sketchy behaviour and in some cases, you might have to format your phone to remove the adware completely. The adware now shows full-screen ad every 15 to 30 minutes on the user's device.

Millions Downloaded Adware on Google Play That Masqueraded As 'Apps'

When the user launches the adware on the device it serves an initial fullscreen pop-up. We advise you read reviews and comments before installing any unknown app from Google Play.

What the Upstream investigation found was that the app was running ad-fraud activities behind users' back by accessing various web pages with advertisements without any interaction.

A list of the 85 adware apps is available in this PDF file. You can check the names of malicious apps on Trend Micro security archives (here).