Google is rolling out Android Auto support for Podcasts

Lawrence Kim
January 10, 2019

Google has removed 85 Android apps from the official Play Store that security researchers from Trend Micro deemed to contain a common strain of adware.

These 85 malicious apps include games, TV remote apps, several others in the form of utility apps on Google Play store according to Trend Micro's security research team. These apps, after being downloaded, reportedly infected victims' smartphones with ads, and the only way to get rid of them is to uninstall the app or in some cases, flashing the phone.

These 85 apps sadly managed to be downloaded a total of 9 million times worldwide, of which the Easy Universal TV remote takes the cake with over 5 million installs. But the scale of the ecosystem still means trouble for many. Beware of Fake Apps!

You can find a full list here (PDF).

The first time users ran any of the apps, they would proceed to show fullscreen ads in different steps, asking and reasking users to press various buttons to continue.

Google Pulls 85 Fake Apps Downloaded 9 Million Times From Play Store Over Adware: Trend Micro
Google Removes 85 Popular Apps Disguised As Adware

Ecular Xu of Trend Micro says that all apps delivering the HidenAd adware show similar behavior, despite coming from different developers and being signed with different certificates.

The most popular of the fraudulent apps was Easy Universal TV Remote, last updated on November 12, 2018. Once the app was opened, users were shown a full-screen ad.

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". If the user clicks on any of the button then again a full screen pop up appears. Lately, we have seen a sudden rise in such fake apps on Google Play duping Android phone users. It still runs in the background, though, launching an add every 15 or 30 minutes.

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. Here is the complete list of these malicious apps on Trend Micro security archives.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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