Beware! 9 million users affected by adware on Google Play apps

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New Delhi | Updated: January 10, 2019 3:58:50 PM

The fake apps loaded with the adware family were tested and it was revealed that they show similar behaviours, and also have the same code.

Source: Reuters

An active adware family disguised as game, TV, and remote control simulator apps affected 9 million users on the Google Play store. While hiding itself expertly, the adware displays full-screen advertisements, monitors the device’s screen unlocking action, and runs in the background, as noted in a report by Trend Micro.

About 9 million users downloaded those 85 ‘fake’ apps around the world and after Trend Micro reported it, the fake apps were suspended from the Play store by Google. The fake apps loaded with the adware family were tested and it was revealed that they are from different developers however, they have different APK-certificate public keys, show similar behaviours, and also have the same code.

The ‘Easy Universal TV Remote’, for example, says that it lets users use their smartphones as TV remote control; the app is the most downloaded among all the 85 adware-laced apps, says the report. The fake app has been downloaded more than 5 million times, Trend Micro noted, and received complaints in the comment section for its nefarious behaviors.

The app runs as usual but keeps prompting the user to click on ads that keep popping up. As the user exits the full-screen ad, the app tells the user it was buffering and disturbingly hides the icon on the device. The fake app, it must be noted, continues to run in the device’s background even after hiding itself but that’s not a good thing either, the adware is configured in a way that it will show a full-screen ad on the user’s device every 15 or 30 minutes.

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Though once the problem is identified, it is best to do away with such apps on your phone, however, having your phone on lockdown and repeated disruptions by ads is a real headache for those whose entire work is depended on their smartphones.

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