9 Million Google Play Users Affected by Adware-Infested Apps and Games
Image Courtesy of Medium
  • Google’s Play Store is seeing a large number of fake apps and games that are infected with adware.
  • 85 infected apps and games that have affected millions of users globally.
  • The apps stay hidden and show full-screen ads whilst running in the background of affected devices.

Google made a number of changes last year to its Play Store’s screening process to reduce the number of infected apps and games that are uploaded, but the platform continues to be plagued with adware. The new adware dubbed “AndroidOS_HidenAd” has been spotted in 85 apps and games and has been downloaded 9 million times.

Easy Universal TV Remote
Image Courtesy of Trend Micro

One of the biggest examples is the “Easy Universal TV Remote” app which has been downloaded 5 million times, that astonishingly matches the legitimate Unified Remote app’s download count. Simply heading scrolling down and reading the reviews will give you a glimpse of how exploitative these fake apps are on Google’s platform.

Once the apps are downloaded from the Google Play Store and launched for the first time, a full-screen ad is displayed and creates an endless loop of advertisements and forces users into giving positive reviews. Trying to exit the app only leads to more ads being displayed. A full-screen ad is displayed at 15- or 30-minute intervals. Users tried to spot the culprit background processes but were unable to do so as the adware stays hidden and does not show up in the Android settings menus.

Google Play Store Adware
Image Courtesy of Trend Micro

In some cases, an affected user’s lockscreen is hidden to force display full-screen ads. One of the best ways to avoid being tricked into downloading such exploitative ads is by checking recent reviews on the Google Play Store. If you spot too many negative reviews or an influx of positive ratings that seem fake, you should steer clear of them. You should also check the permissions requested by apps which serve and if there are too many intrusive permission requests, you have the option to disable them manually after installation or better still, look for an alternative.

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