Android apps with over 500,000 downloads affected by malware

Google is claimed to have removed Android apps infected by malware from the Play Store.


Android apps infected by malware are not new. Lately, we came across a report wherein Google removed over 700,000 problematic apps and 100,000 malicious developers from the Google Play Store in 2017. Now, the company is again in news for a major malware incident, which has been discovered once again.

Android apps with over 500,000 downloads affected by malware


This time, it looks like seven QR code and compass apps have been affected by malware, which allows infiltrators to use the Android devices in order to push in click-based advertising even when the app is inactive.

According to a report by SophosLabs, a security firm, a few applications on the Google Play Store have been using a new malware family called Andr/HiddnAd-AJ. It is also said that some of the affected applications were downloaded over 500,000 times. These apps did not activate the malware for the first six hours, reveals the study. However, after the initial phase of inactivity, these apps ran full-screen ads, ad-related webpages, and unleash notifications those will attract users to generate revenue for the infiltrators.

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When the malware-infected apps are run for the first time, these apps will call for a configuration and the information transferred to the server is controlled by the crooks. Each such configuration download will give the malware, a Google Ad Unit ID, a list of URLs those will open in your browser to push ads on you, a list of messages, icons and links appearing in the notifications, and the time to wait before calling home for the next configuration update.

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The malware affected Android applications are claimed to have been removed from the Google Play Store. Despite the evidence of malware existence, the report recommends installing applications only from the Play Store.

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Paul Ducklin, a Security Researcher at SophosLabs, stated in a blog post that Google's app vetting process is not too perfect but the company does carry out some pre-acceptance checks. There are many third-party Android app repositories those do not have any such checks. Such platforms are open to anyone and can be handy to infect any app those are not available on Google Play Store.

So, Android users should keep in mind not to download applications from off-market app stores and rely only on the Google Play Store for the purpose.

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