Google pulls malware-laden apps that served porn to kids

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Last week, Checkpoint Security released a report detailing a bit of malware that was hidden inside a number of apps readily available on the Google Play Store. Dubbed AdultSwine, the malware was found on the Play Store, hidden inside of a number of games and apps aimed at children – and were downloaded between 3 and 7 million times.

The malware had a three-pronged attacked. Here’s its modus operandi:

  • Displaying ads from the web that are often highly inappropriate and pornographic.
  • Attempting to trick users into installing fake ‘security apps’.
  • Inducing users to register to premium services at the user’s expense.

So yes, one of its primary functions was to emotionally and mentally scar children by serving them porn ads. Further to that, it loads up those warnings about the phone being infected – and then prompts users to download fake security apps, which introduce a second layer of malware. They also prompt users to sign up to premium services (that don’t do anything) at cost.

Checkpoint says that the malware can broaden its range to include credential theft too.

“Although for now this malicious app seems to be a nasty nuisance, and most certainly damaging on both an emotional and financial level, it nevertheless also has a potentially much wider range of malicious activities that it can pursue, all relying on the same common concept.”

The malware was present in apps that mimicked popular games, with titles like
Five Nights Survival Craft, Mcqueen Car Racing Game, and Temple Crash Jungle Bandicoot.

Google has since removed the 60 illicit games from the store – though with proper processes in place, they should have never been available to begin with.

“We’ve removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them,” a Google spokesperson said.

Last Updated: January 15, 2018

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