Google in a recent wave of cleaning up its Play Store has removed a total of 85 apps. All these apps were reported to them by security researchers at Trend Micro for being a part of an adware family.
The genres of adware affected apps include games, online television and remote control apps. According to Trend Micro, these apps were able to show hidden full-screen apps to users, while monitoring their device’s unlock functionality. This means that the users were shown full-screen ads even if they weren’t using the affected apps.
The security firm also said that these apps in total have over nine million downloads logged on the Play Store. One of these remote control apps dubbed Easy Universal TV Remote has over five million downloads, and is the most downloaded app among all of the removed apps.
All of these apps received multiple complaints on the Play Store, with some of them stating the ads won’t even let them use the said app. Interestingly, all of these apps were uploaded by different developers and had completely different APK public key certificates.
However, they shared the same source code. This means that they were developed by a single person or organisation and carefully placed in the Play Store to not get caught using such malpractices to generate revenue, notes the security firm.
Google has been quite serious about cleaning up its Play Store to give the users a better experience. To do so the company has been running cleanup drives every now and then.
According to a TechCrunch report, the company removed over 7,00,000 malicious apps from the Play Store in 2018. Adware might not be as bad as malware, as it only shows the users ads to get the advertising money. Whereas, malware steals all of the personal data of the affected device’s user.
Adware apps though being annoying, have a hidden risk, which is they can show an ad of an app that is affected by malware and can promote its users to download such apps.