Researchers at ESET have identified 42 apps from the Google Play Store containing harmful adware, something that can drain your battery life, data and can even gather personal information.
Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher for ESET, said in a blog post each of 42 apps have since been removed from the Play Store, however they not only amassed a combined eight million downloads during their period of availability, but they also remain available on some third-party app stores.
Stefanko named 21 of the apps in question and detailed the package names of the other 21 in a blog post.
They were named to be: Smart Gallery, SaveInsta, Mini lite for Facebook, Free Radio FM Online, Free Video Downloader, Free social video downloader, File Downloader, Water Drink Reminder, Smart Notes for You, DU Recorder, Tank classic, Heroes Jump, Solucionario, Ringtone Maker, Video downloader, Ringtone Maker Pro, Basketball Perfect Shot, HikeTop+, MP4 video downloader, Flat Music Player, Free Top Video Downloader.
If you’re worried about having any of unnamed 21 apps installed, you can check to see if any are on your phone using services like AppBrain that can identify a programme based on its package name.
In a nutshell, each of the apps described by ESET were said to work as noted in their listing, but also contained adware, too.
According to Stefanko, some of the apps in question are capable of knowing if they’re being tested by security mechanisms or not. After the device has been unlocked they were said to be capable of displaying full-screen ads on a user device.
Worryingly, a number of the programmes in question were said to be capable of disguising themselves. In particular, they were noted to be capable of impersonating apps like Facebook or Google when a user attempts to find out what’s responsible for the adware.
Describing the app’s worrying tactics, Stefanko said: “If the user wants to check which app is responsible for the ad being displayed, by hitting the ‘Recent apps’ button, another trick is used: the app displays a Facebook or Google icon.
“The adware mimics these two apps to look legitimate and avoid suspicion – and thus stay on the affected device for as long as possible.”
ESET was able to find out the developer of the adware present. Although they weren’t named, they were shown to have a presence on Apple’s App Store, too.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of adware plaguing Android users. Earlier this month a further 15 apps were found on the Play Store also containing such software.
Although the programmes described above have all been removed from the Play Store, fans are encouraged to check if they still have any of them installed.
If you do, it’s advised you remove them from your device immediately.