Google Removes 60 Malware-Infected Apps Displaying Pornographic Ads

Gwen Vasquez
January 16, 2018

Google does automated malware scanning of apps submitted to the Play Store, leading to a continual cat-and-mouse game of malicious developers working to beat the filters in various ways.

Google's gotten rid of over 60 apps in the Play Store after Check Point researchers discovered malicious code hiding in plain sight inside the applications. They have also said, that the advertisements running within the apps weren't supplied by them, and were third party ads.

This is especially bad news at AdultSwine, once installed on a device, would display adverts from the web that were often highly inappropriate and pornographic. The apps were mostly targeted at children and contained explicit ads and warnings of a non-existent virus. However, Check Point didn't explain how the malicious code found its way inside otherwise-innocuous apps, but it did demonstrate how the attack worked once the game was downloaded.

If the user falls for the competition ruse, they are then signed up to premium services without their knowledge. The ads were often inappropriate and at times pornographic-a fact made particularly troubling as numerous apps were geared toward younger users. These services charge the victim expensive text rates.

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TakeawaysApps infected with the nasty "AdultSwine" malware are able to cause emotional and financial distress.

While most people will know not to click on the ads or hand over any data, they could have fooled less tech-savvy users and children. A game called "Five Nights Survival Craft", for example, had as many as five million downloads, while a kid-focused app called "Mcqueen Car Racing Game" had been downloaded one million times. To help parents and guardians find age-appropriate content for their children, Google has a family collection on Play Store to do the trick.

A complete list of affected apps is available from Check Point. Those apps are subject to more stringent rules on advertisements to ensure none of the content displayed would be inappropriate for young children. "We appreciate Check Point's work to help keep users safe".

Google has said that strong warnings will continue to be displayed on any device with the corrupt apps installed.

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