The antivirus publisher Avast has reported to Google the presence of 47 fraudulent gaming applications on the Play Store. The Mountain View company has removed many of them and is continuing its investigation of the remaining apps.
The applications pinned by Avast are of the “HiddenAds” type. These are quite legitimate applications at first glance, but which actually hide malicious software. This is called an advertising Trojan horse. Once installed, the software hidden in the app is deployed on the phone and displays torrents of advertisements on the screen of the smartphone, making its use almost impossible.
The number of potential victims is immense since malicious applications have, in all, been downloaded more than 15 million times.Here is part of the list of some malicious apps:
(i)Draw Color by Number
(ii)Skate Board – New
(iii)Find Hidden Differences
(vii)Spot Hidden Differences
(viii)Dancing Run – Color Ball Run
(ix)Find 5 Differences
(xii)Throw into Space
(xiii)Divide it – Cut & Slice Game
(xiv)Tony Shoot – NEW
(xvi)Save your boy
(xvii)Assassin Hunter 2020
(ixx)Fly Skater 2020
Viruses difficult to remove
The worst part is that uninstalling the apps will not solve the problem of screen ads. Indeed, Avast indicates that this malware can continue to flood smartphones even when the apps have been uninstalled.
The reason for this is that malicious apps are divided into two parts; on the one hand, there is mobile gaming and, on the other, malware that runs continuously on the phone. Uninstalling the app will remove the mobile game, but not the malware.
To overcome the advertising Trojan horse, you will have to restart your smartphone in Security Mode. The procedure differs according to the manufacturers and models; a search on the web should help you to know how to proceed. This mode allows you to turn on your phone without the launching of the non-essential application. Once the mode is activated, go to your device settings, Biometric data and security tab, then Other security settings and, finally, Device admin applications. You can then deactivate the applications that appear suspicious to you. After which, you can proceed to uninstall them.
If this solution does not work, you can always use a mobile antivirus to launch a deep scan of your smartphone, or even completely reset your device as a last resort.
A common process
“HiddenAds campaigns can creep into the Play Store by hiding their true purpose or by slowly introducing malicious functionality after being downloaded,” said Jakub Vavra, threat analyst at Avast. “It is difficult to block these adware campaigns because their authors use a unique developer account for each application. While Google has been a great partner in removing detected malicious apps, users should be careful when downloading new apps and check for questionable criteria, be it negative reviews posted or excessive authorization requests formulated on devices, “he continues.
To avoid this kind of unpleasant surprise, it is recommended to download only applications from known publishers or developers. A search on the net can also help you avoid unpleasant surprises.