Another Android Fraud Warning: 1.5M Users Are Being Forced To Click Ads
Another day, another Android security alert.
This time it’s from cybersecurity giant Symantec, which said that as many as 1.5 million Android users are having ads clicked for them in what appears to be shady practices by apps hosted on Google Play.
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Those apps are: Idea Note, a notepad app with more than 1 million downloads, and Beauty Fitness, a workout assistant with at least 500,000 downloads. They’ve now both been kicked out of the Play store – where they’d been hosted for a year – after Symantec warned Google of the rogue behavior.
The developer of both apps, who goes by the name Idea Master, hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
A cunning fraud
In describing the novel, “cunning” attack, Symantec researchers May Ying Tee and Martin Zhang said that the advertisements were effectively “drawn” on the device but then removed from the view of the user.
“The position of the drawings are beyond the device’s viewable screen area and the user is unable to see the advertisements on their device. Using this tactic allows advertisements, and any other potentially malicious content, to be displayed freely. The app can then initiate an automated ad-clicking process that produces ad revenue,” they wrote in a blog post published Wednesday.
Outside of funding a potentially fraudulent scheme, any users of the apps may also have their battery drained by the hidden ad clicking. “As threat actors generate ghost clicks and ad revenue, impacted devices will suffer from drained batteries, slowed performance, and a potential increase in mobile data usage due to frequent visits to advertisement websites,” Symantec’s researchers added.
Concerned users should manually uninstall the apps to avoid any such issues.
Google’s Android platform continues to be the target of myriad scams and hacks. Earlier this month, Google itself warned that tens of millions of devices were being shipped with malware pre-installed. Then an alert came from Kaspersky that the massively popular CamScanner app, which boasts more than 100 million downloads, contained malware.