Sophos, a security research firm has discovered about 15 adware apps on the Play store. These apps are found to be showing intrusive ads and generating income out of them. According to the researchers at global cybersecurity major Sophos, these apps hide their icon in the launcher so that the users could not find and remove them. In addition to this, some apps went a step further and disguised themselves in the phone’s app settings page.
One of the security researchers at Sophos named Pankaj Kholi in a blog post said, “SophosLabs recently discovered 15 apps on Google’s Play Market that engage in such practices; They generate frequent, large, intrusive ads and literally hide their app icons in the launcher in order to make it difficult for you to find and remove them”.
According to the Google Store page of these 15 apps, more than 1.5 million devices worldwide have installed at least one of them.
How These Apps are Misleading the Users
When the app is launched for the first time, the app shows a message reading, “‘This app is incompatible with your device!.” Seeing this message, you might think that the app has crashed. But the actual scenario is something else, after this fake crash, you will be taken to the Google Map’s Play Store page to force you to think that the app has crashed because of Google Maps.
Andrew Brandt who is a Principal Researcher at SophosLabs said, “It is not. This is a ruse”. This statement itself clearly removes the cover from the misleading crash.
It is to be noted that 9 out of the 15 adware apps used the misleading app icons and names, most of which appeared to have been chosen because they might plausibly resemble an innocuous system app.