Security researchers have discovered dozens of Android apps within the Google Play retailer serving advertisements to unsuspecting victims as half of a money-making scheme.

ESET researchers discovered 42 apps containing adware, which they are saying have been downloaded over eight million instances since they first debuted in July 2018.

These apps look regular however act sneakily. Once an unsuspecting person installs an adware-infected app, the app will serve full-screen advertisements on the system’s show at semi-random intervals. Often the apps will delete their shortcut icon, making it harder to take away. The adware-infected apps may even mimic Facebook and Google’s apps to keep away from suspicion, doubtless as a strategy to detract from the precise ad-serving app and to maintain the app the system for so long as potential.

In the background, the apps have been additionally sending again information in regards to the person’s system — together with if sure apps are put in and if the system permits apps from non-app retailer sources — which could possibly be used to put in extra malicious software program on a tool.

“The adware functionality is the same in all the apps we analyzed,” stated Lukas Stefanko, one of ESET’s safety researchers.

The researchers additionally discovered that the apps would examine to see if an affected system was related to Google’s servers in an effort to stop detection. If the apps assume they’re being examined by Google Play’s safety mechanisms, which ostensibly preserve the app retailer free from malicious apps, the adware payload won’t be triggered.

Some of these apps embrace Video Downloader Master, which had 5 million downloads; and Ringtone Maker Pro, SaveInsta and Tank Classic, which had 500,000 downloads every.

The researchers say a Vietnamese school scholar could also be behind the adware marketing campaign.

Google eliminated all of the offending apps however the researchers warned that many have been nonetheless accessible from third-party app shops. A spokesperson confirmed all of the apps have been eliminated, however the search and cell large doesn’t normally remark past acknowledging their removing.

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