The Android operating system’s official app store Play Store has come under fire after security researchers revealed serious malware in several apps. They said that these apps could affect the performance of several programs and the devices used to run these apps. It is being reported that malware-infected apps have been installed more than eight million times worldwide in the last one year. The ESET researchers said they have discovered a year-long campaign of adware delivered through 42 apps in the Play Store. These malicious apps generate fraudulent clicks through advertisements to generate revenue. ESET is a Slovak based internet security company. It was founded in 1992 to offer anti-virus and firewall products. Today, the company plays a significant role in overall cybersecurity in the world.
Researchers said that they identified 42 apps during the study belonging to the campaign adware. The campaign had been running since July 2018. They reported the matter to the Google security team. The Google team immediately swung into action as they removed these apps from the bank. A Google spokesperson confirmed that all adware-infected apps have been removed but didn’t speak how they made en route to the Play Store. However, researchers said that many apps are still available in third-party app stores. According to them, this was possible due to poor privacy practices, adding that these apps used clever tricks to hide the adware behavior so that they can bypass the Play Store’s security checks. ESET researchers claimed that a Vietnamese university student could be behind the adware campaign.
Adware is a type of malware which is hidden and difficult to spot in an operating system for commoners. Once an individual installs an adware-infected app, it serves unwanted advertisements which also include scam ads. The infected apps also show full-screen ads on the device’s screen at regular intervals. Besides, they can also drain the battery and reduce its life. Also, they increase network traffic and gather personal information about the user’s device in the background silently.