Android warning: Google Play Store alert about popular apps hiding nasty secret

Android fans have been warned about a number of popular apps found on the Google Play Store which are hiding a nasty surprise.

Android is one of the most used pieces of software in the world, with over two billion devices running the Google mobile OS each and every month.

However Android users are no strangers to security alerts, with some recent widespread threats being circulated via apps found on the Google Play Store.

Six Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware.

While another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30million Android devices.

And now Android users are being warned once again about some popular Android apps that were found on the Google Play Store.

Security firm Symantec discovered two apps on the Google Play Store which were downloaded over 1.5million times that were hiding a nasty secret.

These Android apps stealthily performed ad-clicking by placing adverts outside of a device’s viewable screen area.

This meant that the user simply couldn’t see the ad, and the app then initiated an automated ad-clicking process to generate clicks.

Symantec said the apps also used legitimate packers originally developed to protect the intellectual property of Android applications.

In a post online Symantec said: “As threat actors generate ghost clicks and ad revenue, impacted devices will suffer from drained batteries, slowed performance, and a potential increase in mobile data usage due to frequent visits to advertisement websites.

“These apps went unnoticed on the Google Play Store for nearly a year, affecting roughly 1.5million users before we uncovered their sneaky behaviour.

“The apps’ use of Android packers and the unusual method of hiding advertisements adds a level of complexity for security researchers.”

The most popular of the offending apps Symantec discovered was ‘Idea Note: OCR Text Scanner, GTD, Color Notes’.

This notepad app was downloaded over a million times from the Google Play Store.

The other app Symantec highlighted was a fitness app called ‘Beauty Fitness: daily workout, best HIIT coach’.

Symantec said, at the time their research was published, the apps were still on the Google Play Store.

They “strongly” encouraged Android users to manually uninstall the apps from their devices.

They also offered this advice to Android users on staying safe…

• Keep your software up to date

• Do not download apps from unfamiliar sites

• Only install apps from trusted sources

• Pay close attention to the permissions requested by apps

• Install a suitable mobile security app

• Make frequent backups of important data

– Stay tuned to for more Android and Google news

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