Apps that do nothing but serve ads ‘tricked’ 9 million Android users

Apps Optimized Google Maps tips & tricks for Android and iOS

The interface is very similar to most other podcast apps but in this case the only groups in the navigation drawer are Your Podcasts, New Episodes, Downloads and In Progress.

According to TrendMicro, one of the apps named "Easy Universal TV Remote" which pretended to allow users to give control of their TV via their smartphone, had 5 million downloads alone. These "apps" are capable of displaying full-screen ads, monitoring a device screen unlocking functionality and hiding themselves.

These particular fake apps were exclusively made to inflate ad revenue for interested parties, and did not do the job they were marketed to do.

The report states that "while the fake apps can be removed manually via the phone's app uninstall feature, it can be hard to get there when full-screen ads show up every 15 or 30 minutes or each time a user unlocks the device's screen". These apps throw full-screen ads when the app is first launched; any call-to-action button or any app-related buttons is pressed within the app. Lately, we have seen a sudden rise in such fake apps on Google Play duping Android phone users.

Another behavior of the adware-laden apps is to push ads every time the user unlocks the device screen. The company claims that these 85 apps have been downloaded 9 million times around the world. Some ads also show a full-screen ad every time the user unlocks their phone. After Google was informed of this misbehaviour, the tech giant was swift in suspending all of these apps.

Mobile security company Upstream found that the variant available in Play store asked for a set of "special and high-risk permissions" an app of its kind does not require for normal functioning, such as reading low-level system log files.

What the Upstream investigation found was that the app was running ad-fraud activities behind users' back by accessing various web pages with advertisements without any interaction. Upstream estimates that the fraudulent weather app generated over 27 million transaction attempts, which could have cost users $1.5 million in unauthorized charges. You can check the names of malicious apps on Trend Micro security archives (here).

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