Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Adware Apps in Google Play Installed 9 Million Times

Adware Apps in Google Play Installed 9 Million Times

85 apps in Google Play that collectively have been installed nine million times by users all over the world came with an adware strain capable of pouring fullscreen adverts at regular intervals or when the user unlocks the device. These apps are disguised as game apps, or TV or remote control apps, and had been downloaded a total of 9 million times. These apps, after being downloaded, reportedly infected victims' smartphones with ads, and the only way to get rid of them is to uninstall the app or in some cases, flashing the phone. One particular app - Easy Universal TV Remote - had been downloaded nearly 5 million times in total, and the listing's comments section was filled with complaints. But the scale of the ecosystem still means trouble for many.

That's not all; devious app developers also create fake impressions about the installation on the phones and fleece ad agencies of their money.

You can find a full list here (PDF).

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.

The first time users ran any of the apps, they would proceed to show fullscreen ads in different steps, asking and reasking users to press various buttons to continue.

The most popular of the fraudulent apps was Easy Universal TV Remote, last updated on November 12, 2018. Fake PMJAY Ayushman Bharat Registration Apps: Government Releases List of 64 Mobile Applications, Warns Users From Downloading Them.

If the user was persistent and stayed with the app until it reached a menu page, every menu button push would trigger yet another fullscreen ad, over and over again until the app would suddenly crash, hiding its original app icon. It still runs in the background, though, launching an add every 15 or 30 minutes. This happens frequently and it will also prompt you to give the app a 5 star rating on Google Play. However, the app does nothing but bombards the phone with several ads.

The apps were blatant adware, and you didn't need to be a security researcher to realize they were malicious.

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