Android malware
Ad-displaying malware apps got into the Google Play Store through links promoted on Facebook Pages. Blogtrepreneur/Flickr

KEY POINTS

  • Play Store eliminated a total of 13 malicious apps disguising themselves as device cleaners
  • McAfee said the adware continuously shows intrusive ads
  • The apps also copy Google Play or Setting icons to remain hidden

Google Play Store has removed more than a dozen malware apps that McAfee found malicious in a recent research. The said cleaning apps were being promoted on Facebook and pushed ads instead of optimizing Android phones and eliminating spyware, malware and other adware.

The Play Store has since removed these apps: Junk Cleaner, Easy Cleaner, Power Doctor, Windy Clean, Keep Clean, Quick Cleaner, Fingertip Cleaner, Full Clean – Clean Cache, Super Clean, Strong Clean, Carpet Clean, Meteor Clean, and Cool Clean, Tech Radar reported. The said malware apps create a permanent ad-displaying service unless they are removed from the Android phone. Even if a user terminates the service, it will restart as long as it remains on the mobile phone.

McAfee revealed in a report late last week that its Mobile Research Team found malware on the Google Play Store. Most of the malware “are disguising themselves as cleaner apps that delete junk files or help optimize their batteries for device management.” The computer security software company noted that the malware “hides and continuously show advertisements to victims.”

McAfee further warned that the apps “run malicious services automatically upon installation without executing the app.” The malicious apps also have the power to change their look to a Google Play icon or Setting icon, preventing users from noticing the apps. McAfee warned that the malicious apps’ masquerading abilities are done frequently so they can stay on the user’s device for as long as possible.

Finally, McAfee revealed that the makers of the said malware launched Facebook advertising pages. The computer security firm said users downloaded the apps through links distributed on legitimate Facebook pages. The apps have seen more than 7 million downloads worldwide.

Telemetry data from McAfee found that millions of users worldwide have installed the malware apps, with most of the affected users traced back to Brazil, South Korea and Japan.

News of the existence of adware on the Play Store about a week after IT security solutions provider Dr. Web revealed that it discovered dozens of malicious apps on the Play Store, with a host of them being adware Trojans that were “designed to display intrusive ads.”

Meta has yet not yet made a statement on the distribution of links to download the apps through Facebook Pages.

The case centered on charges that Google violated antitrust laws with its Google Play app store, alleging the technology giant maintained a monopoly in the US market on its Android smartphone system that penalized developers
The case centered on charges that Google violated antitrust laws with its Google Play app store, alleging the technology giant maintained a monopoly in the US market on its Android smartphone system that penalized developers AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
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