Earlier this year, Trend Micro discovered 85 fake apps from the Google Play Store. Just as we near the end of the year, Trend Micro has once again found similar fake ones—49 adware apps that were downloaded 3 million times before they were discovered and eventually taken down. The adware apps, which were disguised as camera and game apps, were designed to hide as soon as they were installed on mobile devices. Their evasion and persistence features make them difficult to find and uninstall.
Once installed and running, these apps slow device performance as they consume battery and memory. Trend Micro also found that some of these fake apps create duplicate shortcuts of a browser icon that will show full-screen ads once clicked. These particular adware apps had features that make them tricky to fully remove from affected devices; as simply deleting the shortcut will not get rid of it. You need to find the installed app in the phone settings to completely uninstall it.
Although adware is not inherently malicious, threat actors could use them to display malicious links or collect private information.Protect yourself from cyber threats with these best practices:
Always keep your phones’ software and apps updated.The adware takes different actions depending on the OS versions, particularly with the tightened shortcut permissions from the Android OS 8.0 update. App creators and mobile phone companies always make sure to create solutions to fend off such threats on every update.
Only download legitimate apps from official sources.This lowers the chances of downloading a spoofed or fake app. Take a look at the reviews of these apps first to check if other users have reported something amiss. Although that free app looks enticing to use, it’s always important to do proper research to check its legitimacy before you download.
Install security software.You can also enable your device’s built-in security features. For a stronger defence against cyber threats, invest in a mobile security solution such as Trend Micro Mobile Security that provides comprehensive protection to safeguard your mobile devices against malware, ransomware, spyware, and identity theft.