09 Jan 2019

Google has removed 85 Android apps from the official Play Store which were downloaded and installed over nine million times. Security researchers from Trend Micro claims that these contain a common strain of adware.

Out of the apps, one app called “Easy Universal TV Remote,” was alone downloaded over five million times. All these apps were uploaded to the Play Store by different developers and used different digital certificates.

All the adwares had similar behaviors and have the same code. Besides, these apps were virtually identical and were of the same types. They were either games or apps that let users stream videos or control their TVs remotely.

When the users run the apps for the first time, they were shown fullscreen ads in various steps and were asked to press various buttons to continue. If the users were determined to stay with the app until a menu page is reached, every menu button press would lead to another fullscreen ad, over and over until the app would crash all of a sudden hiding its original app icon.

Even though the app crashes, it would run in the background without the knowledge of the user. They might be displaying fullscreen ads every 15 or 30 minutes thereby providing profits for the trickster until the user uninstalls the apps or reset devices to factory settings.

All the apps have been reported to the Google by Trend Micro and the company reacted instantly and deleted all the offending apps reported.

The Google Play Protect service disabled the apps on users’ smartphones and the users who access their Google Play app will also be able to see an alert if they had already installed any of the apps, together with a prompt to uninstall any apps from their devices.

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