Avast Warns of 21 New Adware Apps on Google Play Store

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INTRO: Cyber-security firm, Avast, claims to possess discovered 21 adware gaming apps on the Play Store. The company says it has already reported its findings to Google, but 19 of the malware apps remain on the platform as Google investigates its findings. The new malware apps are apparently a part of the HiddenAds family, almost like those the corporate reported back in June and September.

According to the report, the apps display intrusive ads and lure users into downloading the adware by posing as regular games. The apps have reportedly been downloaded about eight million times thus far, consistent with estimates by app intelligence and insights company, Sensor Tower. The apps are also apparently advertising heavily on YouTube, with numerous Play Store reviews suggesting that they became aware of these apps through YouTube videos.

The complete list of the alleged adware apps is as follows:

  • Shoot Them
  • Crush Car
  • Rolling Scroll
  • Helicopter Attack – NEW
  • Assassin Legend – 2020 NEW
  • Rugby Pass
  • Helicopter Shoot
  • Flying Skateboard
  • Iron it
  • Shooting Run
  • Plant Monster
  • Find Hidden
  • Find 5 Differences – 2020 NEW
  • Rotate Shape
  • Jump Jump
  • Find the Differences – Puzzle Game
  • Sway Man
  • Monkey Destroyer
  • Desert Against
  • Cream Trip
  • Props Rescue

Describing the modus operandi of adware developers, Avast threat analyst, Jakub Vávra, said: “Developers of adware are increasingly using social media channels like regular marketers would. This time, users reported they were targeted with ads promoting the games on YouTube. In September we saw adware spread via TikTok. The popularity of those social networks makes them a beautiful advertising platform, also for cybercriminals, to focus on a younger audience”.

Explaining the workings of the HiddenAds family of adware, Avast said that it is a Trojan disguised as a safe and useful application but instead serves intrusive ads outside of the app. According to the corporate, “These campaigns are repurposing existing gaming applications and add aggressive HiddenAds features to be displayed for users. Stealth features like hiding their icons and having relevant looking advertisements make such adware difficult to spot and remove”.

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