Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Google Removes Nearly Two Dozen Malware-Laden Android Apps From Play

Allan Lindsey | 06 January, 2018, 03:18

In what could be among the most intelligently-designed malicious apps, as many as 36 such apps on the Google Play Store were found harvesting sensitive user data, sending them to remote servers and aggressively pushing advertisements to user devices as part of a click fraud campaign, while performing the usual functions expected from mobile security apps.

The software has the ability to keep tabs on what users watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows via the smartphone's microphone, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see, the report said. It's not normally, I don't think, going to be expected that an application is going to be listening for what you're watching. "In 2017 alone, iOS developers earned $26.5 billion - more than a 30 percent increase over 2016".

In a report last week, the paper said many gaming apps use software from Alphonso, a start-up that collects TV-viewing data for advertisers.

To trick people into installing the shady software, hackers gave the apps legitimate sounding names like "Voice Recorder Pro", "WiFi Password Pro", "Super Flashlight Lite", and "Brightest LED Flashlight-Pro".

Most notably in the policy, it says hashed audio signatures.

First blue supermoon lunar eclipse in 150 years coming in January 31
According to NASA , the spectacle will be viewable "from western North America across the pacific to Eastern Asia". Indeed, these events make the luminescent orb appear roughly 14% bigger and 30% brighter than typical full moons.

Besides the fake security alerts, users were also hit with a trove of advertisements on almost every action they performed.

More than 250 games and social apps that use Alphonso software are available in the Google Play store; some are also available in Apple's App Store.

The good news is that there is a way to opt-out of this information being collected.

The company's CEO Ashish Chordia is quoted in the report as saying that users opt-in fully aware, and can opt-out at any time. Apps containing the malicious code were created to remove their icon from the user's device, making it next to impossible for the user to remove the app or disable the ad-serving feature. It's not clear how often the apps were downloaded by users: ZDNet has approached Google for comment, but at the time of publication hadn't received a reply. You can change it so that the app or the game is not accessing your microphone to collect or use the information collected. They found that not only were these apps secretly harvesting user data and pushing advertisements, the services they were offering were also fake and created to convince users that their security tools were genuine.

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