Android users have been alerted to watch out for a raft of popular apps that were available on the Google Play store which appear to cause malicious ad pop ups.
Android malware infects millions
Internet and mobile security experts Avast said that one particular app involved – a card game called Durak, has already been downloaded 10 million times, based on the Google Play counter. Google now has blocked access to the app and others that were alleged to contain the malicious Android malware code.
Avast notes that the issue was first brought to light when someone alerted it after their own personal investigations on a Nexus smartphone had become infected. The adware apparently caused pop-up messages to appear but they looked like normal system notifications, saying that his phone was slow and that new software was necessary to fix the problem. Following the prompts resulted in being directed to other apps, many of which were also malicious.
“You get re-directed to harmful threats on fake pages, like dubious app stores and apps that attempt to send premium SMS behind your back or to apps that simply collect too much of your data for comfort while offering you no additional value,” said Avast’s malware analyst Filip Chytry.
The apps in question tried to avoid detection by waiting up to a week after installation, so that users weren’t aware which app was causing the issue.
“Most people won’t be able to find the source of the problem and will face fake ads each time they unlock their device,” said Chytry. “I believe that most people will trust that there is a problem that can be solved with one of the app’s advertised ‘solutions’ and will follow the recommended steps, which may lead to an investment into unwanted apps from untrusted sources.”
But it’s not only the Durak card game which is being blamed, there are more apps such a Russian language IQ test (which had been downloaded 5 million times), and a Russian history educational tool, which had been downloaded up to 50,000 times.
Russia is known as a hotbed for hacking, malicious software and viruses. The biggest threats to our mobiles come from malware and trojans, according to the Kaspersky Labs:
A spokesman for Google said that “We’re just confirming that all of the apps in the report have been suspended and nothing more.”
Google does actively scan its app store for malware and also has some more advanced techniques to try and detect it, but things do slip through the net occasionally. Mobile security is becoming more and more important, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself – check out our guide to the 5 Best Anti-Virus Apps for Android.