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Popular Android apps harboured adware

posted Feb 3, 2015, 9:38 PM by Barny CK
Computer security firm AVAST Software discovered a piece of adware embedded in several popular game apps running under the Android OS. Adware is a piece of software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material such as banners or pop-ups when a user is online. In this case, Android users who downloaded some games soon found their phones spammed with warning messages and directed to certain websites. Filip Chytry, a malware analyst who investigated the matter after it was highlighted by users, found that one such app called the Durak Card Game has been downloaded some 5 to 10 million times. Durak Card Game is a game app built by Pocket games Ltd. 

The adware hidden inside Durak Card Game is said to be intelligently written. Upon download and installation, the adware does nothing until the user reboot the phone. After that, each time a user locks and unlocks the phone, an error message such as 'device infected' or 'device full of porn' appears. The adware then asks user for a response, such tapping 'OK' to allow it to take action, upon which, it will direct users to a certain webpage. The adware also directs users to legitimate security applications, which analyst say is a gimmick to earn some referral benefits. 

Google is investigating the incident and has suspended distribution of Durak Card Game and two other apps, an IQ test app and a history app. Under Google's terms of service, using Google Play Store to distribute malware is an offence.