Google Play Store has at least 17 ‘adware’ apps that can steal personal information: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 26, 2020 Published on June 26, 2020

Google Play has at least 17 apps on the Play Store that can bombard users with intrusive ads and can steal their personal information according to a report by the cybersecurity firm Avast.

Avast had initially discovered 47 apps belonging to a Trojan family called HiddenAds. Google has removed 30 of these apps while 17 apps are still live on the app store, Gadgets360 reported.

The apps are a part of a large HiddenAds campaign initially targeting users in India and Southeast Asia, Avast said.

“HiddenAds refers to a family of Trojans that disguise as safe and useful applications, but in fact only serve to display intrusive ads to the user. The discovered apps mask as games and have a timer-triggered hide app icon feature alongside the ability to display device-wide ads. The apps have over 15 million combined downloads on the Play Store,” Avast explained.

“Apps like these are considered adware, a type of malware that bombards you with intrusive and consistent ads and can steal your personal information, track you online and more,” it added.

Together, these apps had been downloaded over 1.5 crore times. Some of the most downloaded titles include Skate Board - New, Find Hidden Differences, Spot Hidden Differences, Tony Shoot - NEW, and Stacking Guys according to the Gadgets360 report.

According to Avast, HiddenAds are generally masked as games. Most of these mobile games are repurposed versions of an older version of the game “with added layers of ads and the hide icon ability.”

“The app can still be uninstalled through the app manager features of the device but requires the user to search out the source of the ads,” according to the cybersecurity firm.

Another attribute that can help single out such apps is that the developer of the app generally only has this one app on their profile with a generic email address. The Terms of Service across the discovered apps were also identical.

Published on June 26, 2020
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