Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Cybercrime

21 Malicious Apps Downloaded 8 Million Times From Google Play

Despite Google’s best efforts to keep Android users safe, malware does manage to slip into Google Play from time to time, and the 21 malicious apps that Avast identified recently are proof of that.

Despite Google’s best efforts to keep Android users safe, malware does manage to slip into Google Play from time to time, and the 21 malicious apps that Avast identified recently are proof of that.

Catered for gamers, the apps were found to include adware that is part of the HiddenAds family. The offending applications appear to have been downloaded roughly 8 million times before being discovered.

The HiddenAds malware, Avast explains, poses as fun or useful apps but in reality delivers intrusive ads outside the application. Often, the malware would make detection difficult by hiding behind relevant-looking advertisements and would attempt to prevent removal by hiding icons.

In this case, the threat was disguised as games promising to provide users with highly engaging actions.

“Developers of adware are increasingly using social media channels, like regular marketers would. This time, users reported they were targeted with ads promoting the games on YouTube. In September, we saw adware spread via TikTok. The popularity of these social networks make them an attractive advertising platform, also for cybercriminals, to target a younger audience,” notes Jakub Vávra, threat analyst at Avast.

To stay protected, users are advised to always double-check any application they want to download and install on their devices, even those listed in Google Play.

Just as HiddenAds managed to bypass Google’s protections and enter the mobile app store, other malware families did and may continue to do so as well. Checking the app’s reviews, price, and ratings in the store and paying attention to the requested permissions should help users identify suspicious apps.

“Users need to be vigilant when downloading applications to their phones and are advised to check the applications’ profile, reviews and to be mindful of extensive device permission requests,” Vávra notes.

Avast also advises users to educate themselves to identify scammers in areas they most often visit, such as online social platforms, YouTube, and the like. Applying rules where children need an adult’s permission before downloading an app should also help keep scammers and malware away.

Related: Cerberus Banking Trojan Delivered via App Hosted on Google Play

Related: Malicious Optimizers Hosted on Google Play Amassed 470,000 Downloads

Related: App Found in Google Play Exploits Recent Android Zero-Day

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybercrime

Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.

Cybercrime

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.

Cybercrime

The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Malware & Threats

Microsoft plans to improve the protection of Office users by blocking XLL add-ins from the internet.

Cybercrime

A new study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) named a staggering figure as the true annual cost of...

Mobile & Wireless

Apple rolled out iOS 16.3 and macOS Ventura 13.2 to cover serious security vulnerabilities.

Mobile & Wireless

Technical details published for an Arm Mali GPU flaw leading to arbitrary kernel code execution and root on Pixel 6.

Cybercrime

A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...