Massive Adware infestation: Over 60,000 android apps pose threat to users' privacy | Tech News

Massive Adware infestation: Over 60,000 android apps pose threat to users' privacy

In the past six months, cybersecurity research group Bitdefender has discovered that more than 60,000 Android apps were loaded with adware, posing a significant threat to users.

| Updated on: Jun 18 2023, 08:22 IST
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Over 60,000 android apps infected with adware. (Pixabay)

In the past six months, cybersecurity research group Bitdefender has discovered that more than 60,000 Android apps were loaded with adware, posing a significant threat to users.

Adware refers to software that is often bundled with programs, such as mobile apps. Its purpose is to generate revenue for malicious actors by displaying ads either in the foreground or background of the user's smartphone. Unfortunately, this not only causes loss of money, drains the device's battery and also causes it to overheat.

Interestingly, these malicious apps were not found on the official Google Play Store but rather on third-party app store websites that can be accessed through Google Search. These unauthorized apps imitated popular applications available on the Play Store, including Netflix, YouTube/TikTok without ads, free VPNs, and counterfeit security programs, among others.

When users clicked on a third-party website from a Google search, they were redirected to a deceptive ad page disguised as a genuine download for the desired app. However, instead of obtaining the intended application, the adware was unknowingly installed on their device. Upon opening the app, an error message would appear, providing an option to uninstall. Unfortunately, even if users selected the uninstall option, the adware persisted in the background of their phones.

Bitdefender, the cybersecurity company responsible for uncovering this threat, asserts that their new app anomaly technology was instrumental in detecting the malware. Without their innovation, this insidious adware would likely have remained undetected. The malware itself had been active since at least October 2022.

According to reports from ExtremeTech, approximately 55% of the affected apps targeted users in the United States, indicating a significant impact on American smartphone users. However, Bitdefender's findings also highlighted substantial numbers of infected apps targeting users in South Korea, Brazil, and Germany.

The presence of adware in such a large number of Android apps raises serious concerns about user privacy and device security. It emphasizes the importance of obtaining apps exclusively from trusted sources, such as the official Google Play Store, to mitigate the risk of encountering malicious software. Users are urged to remain vigilant and take appropriate measures to protect their devices from adware and other potential threats.

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First Published Date: 18 Jun, 08:22 IST