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Researchers find 35 adware apps on Google Play

Researchers find 35 adware apps on Google Play


Security experts have repeatedly warned about malicious applications hiding in official mobile app stores after dozens of them were found on Google Play.

Bitdefender said it used behavioral analysis techniques to scan the market and identified a total of 35. In total, it has been downloaded over 2 million times.

The app performs a variety of malicious activities to achieve persistence on the user’s device, floods it with ads, and can also be a vector for malware, Bitdefender warns.

“While many legitimate apps display ads to users, these apps display ads through their own frameworks, which means they can also serve other types of malware to their victims. .”

“In most cases, users can choose to remove an application if they don’t like it. However, these new malicious apps trick victims into installing them, changing their name and icon, and changing their behavior on their device. It just takes extra steps to hide their presence. Users are still free to remove them, but developers are making them more difficult to find on affected devices.”

The “GPS Location Maps” app was the most popular, with over 100,000 downloads, but no reviews.

Immediately after downloading, the label changes from “GPS Location Maps” to “Settings” and the icon also changes, making it difficult for users to find and uninstall.

The developers then used highly obfuscated code and encryption to make reverse engineering more difficult for researchers, Bitdefender claims.

Other techniques researchers have observed to hide adware include hiding the app from appearing in the list of recently used apps on Android. The report also points out that some apps request permission to bypass battery optimization features to avoid being automatically shut down by the OS.

Although the official developer names linked to these 35 apps are all different, Bitdefender has noticed similarities in the email addresses and websites associated with them. This indicates that they are the works of a single entity or individual.

Vendors, even on official marketplaces, have cautioned users, especially regarding apps with high downloads but few reviews or requests for excessive permissions.

“Official stores are usually very good at weeding out malicious and dangerous apps, but some history shows that a few bad apps manage to get through and make victims until reported. It shows that,” he concludes.

“Just because you downloaded an app from an official store doesn’t mean it’s safe.”




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