Google has stepped in to remove several Android applications from the official Play Store following the disclosure that the apps in question were found to serve intrusive ads.
The findings were reported by the Czech cybersecurity firm Avast on Monday, which said the 21 malicious apps (list here) were downloaded nearly eight million times from Google’s app marketplace.
The apps masqueraded as harmless gaming apps and came packed with HiddenAds malware, a notorious Trojan known for its capabilities to serve intrusive ads outside of the app. The group behind the operation relies on social media channels to lure users into downloading the apps.
Earlier this June, Avast discovered a similar HiddenAds campaign involving 47 gaming apps with over 15 million downloads that were leveraged to display device-wide intrusive ads.
“Developers of adware are increasingly using social media channels, like regular marketers would,” Avast’s Jakub Vávra said. “This time, users reported they were targeted with ads promoting the games on YouTube.”
“In September, we saw adware spread via TikTok. The popularity of these social networks make them an attractive advertising platform, also for…