Google Removes 85 Popular Apps Disguised As Adware

Apps Optimized Google Maps tips & tricks for Android and iOS

Apps Optimized Google Maps tips & tricks for Android and iOS

In the past couple of months, we are seeing a surge in fake apps on Google Play duping Android phone users and now, 85 more have detected affecting more than 9 million people. According to Trend Micro, there are apps on the Play Store which are adware masquerading as random normal apps and this is a cause for worry. The apps which were downloaded over nine million times, in total contained a common strain of adware, as reported by ZDNet. However, a cursory read of the comments section should have alerted Android users to a problem with the app. Some ads also show a full-screen ad every time the user unlocks their phone. "Tapping on the call to action button brings up another full-screen ad". When Trend Micro tested these apps, they all exhibited similar behavior starting with a full-screen ad once the app was open. This happens frequently and it will also prompt you to give the app a 5 star rating on Google Play. These "apps" are capable of displaying full-screen ads, monitoring a device screen unlocking functionality and hiding themselves.

If the user insists on using the app, a loading screen appears and the fake app's interface vanishes. My guess is it continued to run ads in the background.

Some of the shady apps that they uncovered included the Easy Universal TV Remote, Advanced Air Ambulance and many more.

Take, for example, the app below. It is developed by Chinese developer TCL and it also comes pre-installed on some phones from Alcatel (owned by Finnish company Nokia and used under license by Chinese electronics company TCL Corporation).

Taking action against these apps, Google has removed over 85 malicious apps from the Play store.

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. Upstream estimates that the fraudulent weather app generated over 27 million transaction attempts, which could have cost users $1.5 million in unauthorized charges.

Trend Micro says it reported all apps to Google and the OS maker reacted quickly and removed the offending apps immediately after confirming their report.

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