Stealthy Adware Invasion Targets 60K Android Apps

Stealthy Adware Invasion Targets 60K Android Apps
  • 60,000 Android apps found with adware, draining battery and causing overheating.
  • Malicious apps imitated popular ones, distributed through third-party stores.
  • Adware remained hidden, running in the background even after uninstallation.

According to cybersecurity research conducted by Bitdefender, over the past six months, more than 60,000 Android apps were discovered to contain adware. Adware refers to software that generates revenue for malicious actors by displaying advertisements on a user’s smartphone, either in the foreground or background. This not only drains the device’s battery but also causes it to overheat.

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These malicious apps were not available on the official Google Play Store but were found on third-party app store websites that could be accessed through Google Search. These third-party apps often imitated popular applications such as Netflix, YouTube/TikTok without ads, free VPNs, and fake security programs.

When a user clicked on a link from a Google search, they were redirected to a deceptive ad page that appeared to offer a legitimate download for the desired app. However, instead of installing the genuine application, the user unknowingly installed the adware onto their device. Once the app was opened, it displayed an error message and provided an option to uninstall. However, regardless of whether the user chose to uninstall the app or not, it would remain running in the background of the phone.

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According to Bitdefender, this malware had been active since at least October 2022 and would likely have gone undetected without the company’s new app anomaly technology. Interestingly, around 55% of the infected apps targeted users in the United States, while countries like South Korea, Brazil, and Germany were also significantly affected by this adware threat.

Most Frequently Asked Questions;

What is adware?

Adware is software that displays ads on a user’s smartphone, draining the battery and causing overheating.

How many Android apps contained adware?

Over 60,000 Android apps were found to contain adware in the past six months.

Where were the malicious apps found?

The malicious apps were found on third-party app store websites accessed through Google Search, not on the official Google Play Store.

How did users unknowingly install the adware?

Users unknowingly installed the adware when redirected to a deceptive ad page after clicking on a Google search link.

Did the adware remain on the phone after uninstalling the app?

Yes, the adware continued running in the background, regardless of app uninstallation.

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