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42 Malicious Apps Affected 8 Million Android Users: Report

"The malicious developer also has apps in Applea¿s App Store. Some of them are iOS versions of the ones removed from Google Play, but none contain adware functionality," said Stefanko

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Google, Play Store, Dark Theme, Makeover
Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

Security researchers have detected a massive year-long adware campaign where the involved apps were installed on users’ Android devices eight million times from Google Play alone.

Slovak internet security company ESET identified 42 apps on Google Play as belonging to the campaign, which had been running since July 2018. Of those, 21 were still available at the time of discovery.

“We reported the apps to the Google security team and they were swiftly removed. However, the apps are still available in third-party app stores,” said the researchers in a statement on Thursday.

Once launched, the “Ashas” adware family app sent “home” key data about the affected device: device type, OS version, language, number of installed apps, free storage space, battery status, whether the device is rooted and Developer mode enabled, and whether Facebook and FB Messenger are installed.

“The app receives configuration data from the command and control server (C&C) server, needed for displaying ads, and for stealth and resilience,” said security researcher Lukas Stefanko.

Once a user installed an adware-infected app, the app will show full-screen ads on the device’s display at intervals.

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Google acquired Android Inc. for nearly $50 million in July 2005. Pixabay

First, the malicious app tries to determine whether it is being tested by the Google Play security mechanism.

After dodging Google servers, the malicious app can set a custom delay between displaying ads. Based on the server response, the app can also hide its icon and create a shortcut instead.

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“If a typical user tries to get rid of the malicious app, chances are that only the shortcut ends up getting removed. The app then continues to run in the background without the user’s knowledge. This stealth technique has been gaining popularity among adware-related threats distributed via Google Play,” the researchers noted.

According to the team, students at a Vietnamese university may be behind the malicious adware app.

“Due to poor privacy practices on the part of our culprit’s university, we now know his date of birth, we know that he was a student and what university he attended. We retrieved his University ID; a quick googling showed some of his exam grades,” said researchers.

“The malicious developer also has apps in Applea¿s App Store. Some of them are iOS versions of the ones removed from Google Play, but none contain adware functionality,” said Stefanko. (IANS)

Next Story

WhatsApp Dark Mode Rolling Out for Beta Testers on Android

Last week, WhatsApp added a new privacy setting, which will let users decide whether they want to join a group on the messaging platform or not

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WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Website WaBetaInfo, which follows developments with the beta version of the app on Wednesday revealed that WhatsApp has started rolling out dark mode to users of its beta version for Android app.

Those who are using the beta version of the company’s Android app, can now download the version 2.20.13 of the app on their smartphones to get hands on the feature.

One can follow this path to enable dark theme on the app: Settings > Chats > Display > Theme > Dark Theme.

Along with the “Dark” option, one will reportedly see the “Light” option that is the normal theme, another will be “Set by battery saver” which is expected to automatically switch to light/dark theme and one may also see an option of “System default” which identifies the theme of your smartphone and sets the app’s theme accordingly.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

Additionally, the iOS dark theme is also nearly set for release.

WhatsApp is also testing a new beta update for iOS users which would bring features like hide muted status update, splash screen and app badge improvements, among others.

Also Read: Global Smartphone Market to Grow by 64 mn Units in 2020-24

WhatsApp’s new splash screen would essentially let users see the WhatsApp logo whenever they open the app on their iPhones. This is also available on the Android beta app.

Last week, WhatsApp added a new privacy setting, which will let users decide whether they want to join a group on the messaging platform or not. (IANS)