Google culls 60 Android apps after malware pushes porn on children

Google culls 60 Android apps after malware pushes porn on children

Researchers have found a batch of over 60 malware-carrying apps in Google's Play Store created to rob mobile users or show them pornography, all with a kid-friendly theme.

The so-called AdultSwine malware, which displayed "highly inappropriate ads" affected apps reportedly downloaded between 3 and 7 million times.

After being advised about the malware, in addition to removing the apps from the Google Play store, Check Point said Google took "prompt action" to disable the developers' accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to any users that still have the apps installed.

Such exclusively family-based apps are checked manually by Google for malware and ad content, according to those familiar with the situation, but the AdultSwine code was put out for general release. "An experienced eye could easily foresee this tactic, though a child playing a game app is easy prey for such nefarious apps".

In a statement (via Gizmodo), Google confirmed the apps have been removed from the Play Store.

"Should the user press the notification of "Remove Virus Now" he is redirected to an app in the Google Play Store with a somewhat questionable connection to virus removal", said the researchers in an analysis. A full list of apps can be found here.

"Developers [have] reported unexpected latency between when a user installs a mobile app and when the corresponding Wear app is installed via multi-APK on Wear 1.0 devices", Lam stated in a Google+ post.

Besides displaying porn ads, the malware could also try to trick users into installing fake security apps or to register for premium services.

The most shocking element of this malware is that it is capable of causing pornographic ads from the attacker's ad library to pop up on the screen without warning, above legitimate game apps.

In late August of past year, Google announced some updates to its Android Wear policy which would affect the requirements for an app to obtain an "Enhanced for Android Wear" badge. It might, for example, tell users they could win a "free iPhone" by answering a few questions before prompting them to enter a phone number.

The code could even do more damage, as Check Point noted that AdultSwine "also has a potentially much wider range of malicious activities that it can pursue, all relying on the same common concept".

"Due to the pervasive use of mobile apps, 'AdultSwine" and other similar malicious apps will likely be continually repeated and imitated by hackers.

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