Google has removed 29 malicious apps from the Play Store with over a collective download count of 10 million, discovered by cybersecurity company Quick Heal Security Labs. In a company blog post, Quick Heal Security Labs revealed that one app called Multiapp multiple accounts simultaneously alone had over five million installs.
Of the 29 malicious apps, while 24 were of the HiddAd category, the rest five apps belonged to the Adware category. The company also put out screenshots of the list of malicious apps that have now been removed from the Play Store.
As per the post, the purpose of the HiddAd category of apps is to show full screen ads on yje user’s device. In fact, some of the HiddAd apps also displayed ads even when not in use. The HiddAd apps, which mostly belonged to the Photography category, hide their icon after the user first launches them to avoid getting uninstalled easily and create shortcut on Home Screen.
"When users launch the App through the shortcut, these apps show full screen ads on device screen. Few of these Apps can show adds even when the device is in idle state and the App is not in active use," the post read.
As for Adware category of apps, these show advertisements of different apps like X-Ray scanning app, on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Quick Heal Security Labs noted that two apps that claimed to offer X-Ray scanning functionality have crossed one million downloads on the Play Store.
The goal of Adware apps to cause heavy data usage and drain the user’s smartphone battery. The Adware apps tend to get into the user’s Android device through advertisements. "Right after the launch, these applications open camera and show various options like flash-light, gallery, etc. But when user chooses an option, these apps start full-screen Ads, with no option to close or skip," the post added.