Adware found in Google Play store app that has been downloaded millions of times

If you’re an Android user, and you’re going to download games from the Google Play store, make sure they’re not Durak, a card game, this IQ test game, or this Russian history trivia app.

This may sound like a jumbled assortment of apps, but they all appeared in a blog post by Avast, a security firm providing mobile security and anti-virus software. According to the post, these apps contain adware, and considering they’re available in the Google Play store, they’re available to millions of users. In fact, the Durak card game app has already been downloaded between five million to 10 million times, with about 43,000 user ratings, according to Google Play.

Here’s how these apps work. When a user downloads them, they appear to work completely normally and behave like regular gaming apps. However, after a device reboot, the app starts to send the user different ads that point to fake problems, like their device being infected, out of date, or flooded with pornography.

While that isn’t actually the case, users who are then prompted to take action and then approve are taken to fake app stores, places that try to send text messages on their behalf, or to other apps that collect a lot of personal data.

For adware, that kind of behaviour is pretty par for the course. However, what’s more intriguing is that users sometimes get sent to legitimate security apps on Google Play, wrote Filip Chytry, the author of Avast’s blog post.

“These security apps are, of course, harmless, but would security providers really want to promote their apps via adware? Even if you install the security apps, the undesirable ads popping up on your phone don‘t stop. This kind of threat can be considered good social engineering,” he wrote.

“Most people won‘t be able to find the source of the problem and will face fake ads each time they unlock their device. I believe that most people will trust that there is a problem that can be solved with one of the apps advertised ‘solutions’ and will follow the recommended steps, which may lead to an investment into unwanted apps from untrusted sources.”

Using the Google Play to distribute adware is definitely breaking Google’s rules. The problem is, with a sprawling app catalogue and millions of users who trust others’ downloads, as in the case of the Durak app, it can be hard for Android users to figure out which apps to trust, even if they’re housed in the Google Play store.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

Featured Story

How the CTO can Maintain Cloud Momentum Across the Enterprise

Embracing cloud is easy for some individuals. But embedding widespread cloud adoption at the enterprise level is...

Related Tech News

Get ITBusiness Delivered

Our experienced team of journalists brings you engaging content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured Tech Jobs