Google has stepped in to eliminate a few Android applications from the official Play Store after finding 21 of them were serving malicious Ads.
They were promoted by a cybercriminal group who relied on social media platforms to get media attention to their apps, which were filled with a HiddenAds malware
The discoveries were accounted for by the Czech cybersecurity firm Avast, on Monday. They confirmed all of the mentioned games had been downloaded by 8 million users.
What Are the 21 Malicious Games Google Removed from the Play Store?
In case you’re curious… Here’s a list of the 21 games removed from the Android Play Store:
The mentioned malware is Trojan-like capable of showing unwanted ads outside of the apps themselves.
This is how it goes:
Once you install any of the games shown in the list, they would immediately start to hide their icons to prevent being deleted. Not only that but indeed, they start to hide behind “relevant-looking” ads, making them extremely difficult to differentiate.
Additionally, they also were capable of merging with other legit apps to show unskippable, timed ads. This gets worst when the app chooses the browser as a hiding blanket… That’s when it truly bombarded users with more advertisements.
These malicious apps could be uninstalled as almost every other (through the app manager feature). It just puts the onus on the clients to look for the specific application that is the wellspring of the promotions and eliminate them.
The Senior Writer at Avast said in the linked blog post, that “the apps also have tactics to avoid detection by users, hiding their icons so they can’t be deleted, and hiding behind relevant-looking advertisements, which makes them hard to identify.”
The apps were eluding detection, as with the most recent adware campaign (July) associated with Google Play’s malicious photo apps.
But Google isn’t the only one who has historically struggled with malicious apps on its online store (bigger numbers, in comparison to Apple’s App store).
In September, researchers also observed similar adware spread through TikTok.
Social media networks are being exploited to make them work harder for the cybersecurity team of the Android Play store.
But what has Google done to stop (or at least slow down) malicious apps before they get inside the store?
It has strengthened its vetting mechanism, as well as forming an “App Defense Alliance” with endpoint security firms (ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium).
Last year, they stopped 790,000 apps that violated Google’s policies from the submission process.
And if that wasn’t enough, on October 1, Google announced a plan to forbid all apps that could track the user’s location and online activity, without consent. This is what is considered a declared war on the so-called stalkerware.
For example, In January, they removed 17,000 android apps containing the Joker (a.k.a. Bread) spyware from the Play store. And they were still deleting apps infected with the Joker spyware in early September.
Later in the month, scientists uncovered that they discovered more than 300 applications on the Google Play Store disrupting essential cryptography code guidelines, exhibiting how simple it is in any event, for famous and genuine applications on the commercial center to make security changes.
The most recent news is another motivation behind why clients need to examine the reviews, designer description, and the rundown of mentioned authorizations before downloading and installing any application.
After all, you probably haven’t seen all the risky paths that this could lead to.
In many cases, a hacked smartphone could translate into a device’s damages to collateral business and reputational harm.
Will you let that happen? Or will you take action before risking losing everything?