Sketchy Hidden Apps You Must Check & Delete Right Now
Google is still struggling with Google Play Store’s unending game of sketchy apps that show no sign of stopping to push adware to many Android users. Upon install dangerous apps in your phone, they also install other files without your knowledge.
According to TrendMicro, these apps secretly install adware in your phone and cause to see full-screen ads on your phone even when not browsing the internet. These ads show up uncontrollably and are very invasive when sending ads.
“Bitdefender researchers recently found 17 Google Play apps that, once installed, start hiding their presence on the user’s device and constantly display aggressive ads. While not malicious per se, the tactics they use to smuggle themselves into Google Play and dodge Google’s vetting system are traditionally associated with malware,” a report from cyber security solutions company Bitdefender states in its opening.
According to the Bitdefender researchers, in order to operate stealthily and avoid Google’s watchful eye, the offending apps would not display any ads to users for about 4 hours after installation.
This adware hidden in the user’s phone and constantly show online ads had left many people annoyed especially after voicing their frustrations on reviews of the Play Store platform. It was shocking to find out that the reviews had been ignored by many and had attracted over 550,000 downloads.
Developers generate a lot of revenue doing online advertisement through adware or advertising-supported software. They randomly show pop-up online ads on your phone even when you aren’t using the apps.
According to Bitdefender’s report, Google has been notified of the issue and the apps are being removed from the Play Store. Some of the tactics these apps are using are to wait 48 hours before hiding their presence and then splitting the app’s code into various resource files. These ads are shown after 4 hours of an app’s installation.
For example, one of the apps called Car Racing 2019, is a racing simulator game that adds adware and shows online ads when the user is not playing the game. There are a lot of bad reviews in the Play Store for this app with users complaining that the app keeps showing full-screen ads. Some have also complained that this app tends to go invisible from the menu and drains the battery away. Ads tend to show at irregular intervals without even warning anyone.
If you have any of these harmful 17 apps, delete them immediately:
- Car Racing 2019
- 4K Wallpaper (Background 4K Full HD)
- Backgrounds 4K HD
- QR Code Reader & Barcode Scanner Pro
- File Manager Pro — Manager SD Card/Explorer
- VMOWO City: Speed Racing 3D
- Barcode Scanner
- Screen Stream Mirroring
- QR Code — Scan & Read a Barcode
- Period Tracker — Cycle Ovulation Women’s
- QR & Barcode Scan Reader
- Wallpapers 4K, Backgrounds HD
- Transfer Data Smart
- Explorer File Manager
- Today Weather Radar
- io: Big Fish Frenzy
- Clock LED
Even though the apps have been removed from Play Store, some of them can still be installed on your phone. It is recommended to remove these apps immediately so as to avoid your phone getting affected by the adware and getting annoying pop-ups of online ads.
Ensure you have installed a good antivirus that detects viruses, adware etc. and remove them automatically. Also, be careful while installing apps, even from the Play Store by ensuring they have good reviews. Other users are the first ones to report such incidents and you should be on the lookout for such comments before installing.
Icon-hiding Android Adware
For many years, app developers have always embedded ad-core into their apps so as to settle the costs of development. Some developers go against the moral fabric and simply use their apps to launch ads on mobile devices.
SophosLabs recently found other 15 apps on Google’s Play Market that conduct such activities. They develop frequent, large, intrusive ads and hide their app icons in the launcher so as to make it difficult for one to find and remove them. Most of them even go ahead and disguise themselves in the phone’s App settings page. According to Play Market statistics for these apps, more than 1.3 million devices have installed at least one of them.
For instance, the app, free.calls.messages (also known as Flash On Calls & Messages – or Free Calls & Messages) – tricks users to prevent them from uninstalling the app. When launched, the app displays a message that says “This app is incompatible with your device!” One might think the app has crashed but the app secretively opens the Play Store and navigates to the page for Google Maps to mislead one into thinking that the Maps app has caused the problem.
The app then hides its own icon and doesn’t appear in the launcher’s app tray. Others in the list hide their icon in the first launch while others simply wait for a while after one installs the app.
Playing Mind Games
SophosLabs also observed that these apps are playing a dirty trick by using one name and icon for the application. They are usually visible in the phone’s Apps settings page, and a different name and icon for running the app window.
Nine out of these 15 apps use deceptive application icons and names. As a matter of fact, most of them appear to have been chosen because they might look like harmless system apps. The app icon appears in the phone’s “gear” Settings menu, under Apps.
By hiding their launcher icons and using an application icon and name that resembles a system app, these apps make it look like nothing unusual has been installed on the phone. Other apps use a library called Koolib to install a service that hides the icon after a specified time after the installation of the app.
These apps include: