Google removed 85 apps from its Play Store which had been downloaded a total of 9 million times, after security company Trend Micro found they contained adware, a type of malware that bombards users with full-screen and hidden advertisements.
In a blog post, Trend Micro stated the apps were disguised as games as well as TV and remote control simulator offerings.
“This adware is capable of displaying full-screen ads, hiding itself, monitoring a device’s screen unlocking functionality, and running in the mobile device’s background…After verifying our report, Google swiftly suspended the fake apps from the Play store,” the company stated.
The most downloaded (5 million downloads) of these apps was Easy Universal TV Remote which claims to allow users to use their smartphones to control their TV.
Other apps included A/C Air Conditioner Remote, Police Chase Extreme City 3D Game, Easy Universal TV Remote, Garage Door Remote Control and Prado Parking City 3D Game,
Many users who have downloaded these apps may have trouble getting rid of them, as some show an ad each time the user unlocks their device.
“While the fake apps can be removed manually via the phone’s app uninstall feature, it can be difficult to get there when full-screen ads show up every 15 or 30 minutes or each time a user unlocks the device’s screen,” Trend Micro noted.
Google is no stranger to malware. In January 2018 it removed around 60 gaming apps from its Play Store containing “a new and nasty malicious code”, several of which were aimed at children.Subscribe to our daily newsletter