Google removes malicious apps that ran fraud under the guise of offering freebies from Play Store

By: |
August 31, 2020 3:47 PM

The applications in question were those that offered freebies to the users ranging from a pair of shoes, sneakers to tickets for various activities.

Named “Terracotta”, the botnet had been under the radar of the Satori team since late 2019 and the team had been doing research on the botnet.

In an action against several malicious android phone applications, Google Play Store has removed them from its platform. The applications in question were those that offered freebies to the users ranging from a pair of shoes, sneakers to tickets for various activities. The applications also maliciously installed botnets on the users device without the user being aware of it. The discovery of the botnet was flagged by the White Ops’ Satori, a team of professionals working on mobile security. Named “Terracotta”, the botnet had been under the radar of the Satori team since late 2019 and the team had been doing research on the botnet.

The modus operandi of such apps mostly remained common which involved enticing the users in return of freebies and then installing botnets secretly on the device. Users were lured with free services and gifts which ranged from a pair of shoes, some electronic gadget to even free dental and doctor appointments and movie tickets. Once the user had shown interest in getting the freebies, the users were asked to not uninstall the app till 2-3 weeks after which their gifts would be dispatched.

During the stipulated time of 2-3 weeks, the apps secretly ran the modified version of Webview (a smaller version of Google Chrome). Webview was then allegedly taken in use to launch varied kinds of ads and gain revenue from the fake advertisement impressions. As far as the extent of loss to the users is concerned, the Satori team said that though these apps did not directly harm the users, they indirectly consumed a lot of battery and internet data at the cost of users. The extent of penetration of such Terracotta apps could be gauged from the fact that over 200 crore advertisements were from 65000 devices in the last week of June alone. After the submission of the findings of the Satori team, the Google team came in action and removed all such maclicious applications from its platform. Users must also keep discretion and must desist from getting lured by any freebies and installing any unverified applications.

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