Following many reports that some Android apps are bundled with an Adware Trojan named HiddenAds, Google has removed 21 apps from the official Android app store, with users advised to uninstall the apps from their devices immediately.
Avast, a Czech cybersecurity company, made these findings on Monday, 26th October 2020.
According to Avast, the said Adware apps have been downloaded over eight million times in total, rendering a multitude of Android phones vulnerable to malware.
How did these apps get so popular?
Malware developers are now more efficient than ever, employing intelligent tactics to distribute flawed apps.
Most users of these apps reportedly encountered them from YouTube ads and other legitimate social advertising platforms. These distribution platforms make the apps look legitimate and download-worthy, only to wreak havoc on a device after getting downloaded.
Avast threat analyst Jakub Vavra analyzed how adware continues to spread via TikTok and other social networks.
While Google and other app moderators work to keep malicious apps away, virus developers are also devising new ways to bypass the restrictions, leaving the users vulnerable.
How do these apps affect a device?
The HiddenAds malware works in the background to clutter the user interface of a victim’s device with ads.
These apps regularly show non-dismissible ads with a timeout. These ads draw over other apps and sometimes open up the browser, directing the victim to malicious websites.
These apps sometimes mask the app name and icon to prevent deletion. Unless the victim is an expert with Android malware, it might be difficult to fish out and remove the culprit.
What are the affected apps?
Initially, Google only removed four of the 21 apps Avast reported. However, Google has taken further actions and removed all the 21 reported apps, listed below.
- Shoot Them
- Crush Car
- Rolling Scroll
- Helicopter Attack – NEW
- Assassin Legend – 2020 NEW
- Helicopter Shoot
- Rugby Pass
- Flying Skateboard
- Iron It
- Shooting Run
- Plant Monster
- Find Hidden
- Find 5 Differences – 2020 NEW
- Rotate Shape
- Jump Jump
- Find the Differences – Puzzle Game
- Sway Man
- Desert Against
- Money Destroyer
- Cream Trip – NEW
- Props Rescue
How do you protect your device?
Do you have any of the above apps installed on your device?
Follow the steps below to protect your device.
- Find and uninstall the erring app. Analysts found that simply uninstalling should fix most of the issues.
- Turn on Google Play Protect. This measure will protect you from malicious apps as soon as they’re discovered.
- Run a full virus scan using trusted antivirus software.
Also, always check the reviews of an app before downloading it. While some malware developers do pay for good reviews, they’re deceptive and easy to spot.
While reading app reviews, be aware that people seldom leave favorable reviews if they have no issues with the app. Seeing lots of favorable reviews without any complaints is a potential red flag, rendering the app unsafe to install.