Google has removed 85 apps from its Play Store after finding out that they were pushing aggressive, full-screen adware to Android users.
With the rise in the mobile market, Adware has become one of the most prevalent mobile threats in the world. Adware has traditionally been used to aggressively push ads like banners or pop-ups on mobile screens to make money for its makers.
The now-removed 85 apps in question disguised as games, streaming TV, and remote control simulator apps in the Google Play store and had collectively been installed by nine million users all over the world.
Researchers from cyber security company Trend Micro spotted these apps which has the ability to bombard user devices with full-screen advertisements at regular intervals or when users unlock their device by monitoring their screen unlocking functionality.
The apps can display ads even when you are not browsing the internet, hide themselves and run in the background on infected devices.
The most popular fake app in the list was Easy Universal TV Remote, which was downloaded more than 5 million times before it was removed, had a solid 4-star rating from over 100,000 users with review section being populated with complaints from users.
Other apps included Police Chase Extreme City 3D Game, Prado Parking City 3D Game, Moto Racing, Parking Game, TV WORLD, SPORT TV, A/C Air Conditioner Remote, Garage Door Remote Control and many more.
Trend Micro researchers tested each app and discovered that though the apps came from different developers and had different APK cert public keys, most shared the same or similar code and often were similarly named.
While adware is becoming more aggressive a sophisticated these days, the risk is a bit higher on Android operating system than other platforms because of the extra permissions apps enjoy.
Although Google has stepped up its efforts to remove potentially harmful apps from its Play Store in the past years and added more stringent malware checks for new apps, Adware app eventually finds its way into its mobile app marketplace to target millions of Android users.
The easiest way to prevent yourself from falling victim to such attacks in the future is to always beware of fishy applications, even when downloading them from official Play Store and try to stick to the trusted brands only.
Moreover, always look at the app reviews left by other users who have downloaded the app, and also verify app permissions before installing any app and grant only those permissions that are relevant for the app's purpose.
Last but not the least, you are strongly advised to always keep a good antivirus app on your Android device that can detect and block such malicious activities before they can infect your device, and keep your device and apps up-to-date.