Avast discovered and reported 47 apps disguised as games that were infected with HiddenAds adware in the Google app store.
This adware is responsible for displaying ads on the screens of mobile devices, even after closing the application in question.
Avast researchers were able to make this initial discovery using automatic detection software apklab.io, building on a previous HiddenAds campaign and recently found on the Google Play Store. Through this analysis, Avast was able to find the campaign by comparing similar network activities, resources, and traffic.
To disguise malicious content, these apps can hide their icons in the list of apps on the infected device and can display intrusive ads on the entire device. In addition, some of these applications may also open the browser automatically to direct the user to a page with additional advertisements.
The problem continues to happen on the contaminated device even after uninstalling the application in question.
“Campaigns like HiddenAds can be inserted into the Play Store, obfuscating their true purpose or slowly introducing malicious features once downloaded by users. It is difficult to prevent adware campaigns, as their creators use unique developer accounts for each application. While Google has been a great partner in removing malicious apps, users need to remain vigilant when downloading new apps on their devices and checking for signs that can reveal whether the app is bad, such as negative reviews, extensive device permission requests, and unknown developers, ”says Jakub Vávra, Avast threat analyst.
Sometimes it is only possible to verify that an application present in the Google app store hides adware or malware after, in fact, installing it on the device. However, following some tips, the user can see signs that an application may contain this adware.
One is to see the evaluations made by other users on the application page. People who have already experienced these situations after installing the application may have left comments talking about their experience, in order to alert others. Another important point to note is the number of “stars” received by the app.
Usually the developers of these apps also only have software on their page, which is the one that hides the adware. This is another important point to keep an eye on.
From the list of apps that have been reported by the company, Google has already removed some from the Play Store. Anyway, it is still important to be alert to these names, to avoid them if you find them in another source. Apps that have not yet been removed remain under review by the search giant, to see whether or not they will be removed from the platform.
Check the list below which apps were reported by Avast and the approximate download number of each:
- Draw Color by Number – 1,000,000
- Skate Board – New – 1,000,000
- Find Hidden Differences – 1,000,000
- Shoot Master – 1,000,000
- Stacking Guys – 1,000,000
- Disc Go! – 1,000,000
- Spot Hidden Differences – 500,000
- Dancing Run – Color Ball Run – 500,000
- Find 5 Differences – 500,000
- Joy Woodworker – 500,000
- Throw Master – 500,000
- Throw into Space – 500,000
- Divide it – Cut & Slice Game – 500,000
- Tony Shoot – NEW – 500,000
- Assassin Legend – 500,000
- Flip King – 500,000
- Save Your Boy – 500,000
- Assassin Hunter 2020 – 500,000
- Stealing Run – 500,000
- Fly Skater 2020 – 500,000
It is also important to report that these types of threats are not restricted to Android. Avast also recently released a list of VPN apps that are available for iOS and can be harmful to users.