Malicious ads that affected millions of users detected on Appstore and Google Play Store. Two leading companies, Apple and Google, removed over 50 mobile applications from their respective mobile application stores.
17 infected apps on the stores
Researchers have detected 17 infected apps on AppStore and 42 infected apps on Google Play Store. So, Google and Apple removed these infected apps for their users’ security.
London-based mobile security firm Wandera stated that threat research team detected 17 mobile apps which are infected with clicker trojan malware. The apps are from different categories such as productivity, platform utilities, fitness, media and travel and are free of charge.
List of the infected apps
They simulate user interactions by communicating with known command and control (C&C). The firm defines clicker Trojan malware as “a well-understood class of malware that performs ad-fraud by making frequent connections to ad networks or websites in order to artificially inflate visitor counts or to generate revenue on a pay-per-click basis.”
17 infected apps can be listed as thus:
- RTO Vehicle Information
- EMI Calculator & Loan Planner
- File Manager – Documents
- Smart GPS Speedometer
- CrickOne – Live Cricket Scores
- Daily Fitness – Yoga Poses
- FM Radio – Internet Radio
- My Train Info – IRCTC & PNR(not listed under developer profile)
- Around Me Place Finder
- Easy Contacts Backup Manager
- Ramadan Times 2019
- Restaurant Finder – Find Food
- BMI Calculator – BMR Calc
- Dual Accounts
- Video Editor – Mute Video
- Islamic World – Qibla
- Smart Video Compressor
All those apps belong to an India-based developer, namely, AppAspect Technologies Pvt. Ltd. This company has been published all 17 infected apps on the App Store. They have published 28 apps on Google Play. Wandera’s researchers couldn’t find any malware on these apps.
42 apps removed from Google Play
Slovakian security solutions provider Eset discovered at least 42 Android apps including Ashas, adware. They detected a campaign that had been running since July 2018. Those 42 apps contributed to this campaign via this malware and they were installed eight million times on Google Play. The developer is a Vietnamese university student in Hanoi.
After detected these apps, Eset contacted Google security team for removal. After this notification, Google removed these 42 apps but they can still be downloaded from third-party app stores.
The device must be rooted
After they are installed, this adware communicates with its C&C server and sends key data about the device like device type, OS version, language, number of installed apps, free storage space, battery status. To do this, several conditions need to be met: the device must be rooted, developer mode should be turned on, and Facebook and Facebook Messenger must be installed.
Moreover, the attacker uses a number of tricks. First, the malicious app tries to determine whether it is being tested by the Google Play security mechanism. Second, the app can set a custom delay between displaying ads. Third, the app can also hide its icon and create a shortcut instead.