Google Play Store Removes 15 Click-Ad Fraud Apps

By Bill Toulas / December 20, 2018

Yet another “wave” of vile apps that were designed to serve ad fraud schemes has been reported by Trend Micro and promptly removed by Google. The 15 apps were of the “wallpaper downloading” type, and they featured a polished and user-friendly interface that drew collectively around 222000 user downloads. Trend Micro’s telemetry analysis shows that the countries with the most infected Android devices are the United States, Germany, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

As is always the case with click-ad fraud apps, this batch hid its activity from the users so the whole background operation could seamlessly go on for as long as possible. The apps changed the user’s Android ID URL parameters and initiated the process of simulating fake ad clicks. To stay out of the user’s sight, the browser background that loads the ad URLs are set to a transparent mode.

wallpaper app

From the Trend Micro Report

Jon Clay, director of global threat communications in Trend Micro, has said that their experience with Google’s reactions has been positive so far. As he stated: “History shows Google Play Store have been quick to remove malicious apps once they have been alerted by us, as long as we provide them with enough information and evidence of an app being malicious or potentially unwanted.”

It looks that in order to keep up with the rate that these apps make their appearance on the Google Play Store (and also the iTunes Store), Trend Micro and other security researchers need to dedicate many resources in tracking them. Even then, some will pass under the radar, so users need to be cautious of the apps they download and use, and conscious about what apps are running in the background. Cybercriminals are intensifying their effort to steal information and manipulate victim devices to make a profit, and the apps they use as trojans have reached new beautification and polishing levels which helps in creating a fake image of legitimacy.

Are you using a wallpaper app on Android or iOS? Let us know what is your experience with it in the comments below, and also check our socials on Facebook and Twitter for daily tech news.

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