Google has taken down a set of apps from Play Store that infected over a million Android smartphones with malware.

The four malicious applications downloaded from Google Play, the official store for the Android system, direct users to sites that steal sensitive information or generate "pay-per-click" revenue for the operators. They are from a developer called Mobile apps Group.

Some of these sites offer users the opportunity to download fake security tools or updates, tricking them into installing malicious files manually.

The same developer was exposed twice in the past for distributing adware on Google Play, according to a report from Malwarebytes. However, it was allowed to continue publishing apps after submitting cleaned versions.

This raises questions about Google's ability to properly vet apps and protect users from malicious software. The apps were available on Play Store for several days after the report was published. They are now been removed.

The apps have poor reviews on Google Play, with many users complaining about intrusive ads that open automatically in new browser tabs.

The four malicious apps are:

  • Bluetooth Auto Connect, with over 1,000,000 installs
  • Bluetooth App Sender, with over 50,000 installs
  • Driver: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, with over 10,000 installs
  • Mobile transfer: smart switch, with over 1,000 installs

If you have any of these apps on your device, you should uninstall them immediately.

Researchers at Malwarebytes have discovered that some mobile apps have a 72-hour delay before displaying the first ad or opening a phishing link in the web browser. The apps then continue to launch more tabs with similar content every two hours, even when the device is locked.

This means when users return to their phones, they may find multiple phishing and ad sites already open. Users have been asked to be cautious while downloading apps and check the app permissions before installation.

What to do if your device gets infected by adware?

Adware is a type of malware that automatically displays advertising content on a user's computer. It is usually bundled with free software or shareware programs and is installed without the user's knowledge or consent.

It can be difficult to remove and may cause unwanted pop-up ads or slow down the device. Some adware programs are also spyware, which means they can track a user's online activity and send the information to third-party companies.

The best way to keep adware off your device is to be careful about what you download and install. Adware can be bundled with other software, so be sure to read the agreements carefully before proceeding with a download.

Download apps only from trusted sources, such as the App Store or Google Play. Also, keep your device up to date with the latest security patches.

Be cautious of apps that are free or have in-app purchases – they are often prime targets for adware. Keeping Google's Play Protect feature active is a great way to keep your Android device safe from harmful apps.

It would be difficult to get rid of adware once it's installed on your phone. It's always best to avoid it in the first place. Keep your anti-virus software up to date. Also, run regular scans to help detect and remove any adware that might have sneaked onto your device.

Android malware