Some 200 apps available on the Google Play Store contained dangerous advertising code that had the potential to force a smartphone to display ads outside the apps, open links to websites and the app store automatically, and download new apps independently.
The malicious code was discovered by a private security firm which reported the information to Google. The company had announced that the apps had been removed from the Play Store, but they managed to reach 150 million downloads before they were removed, according to official Play Store information.
The code used to push the ads imitated advertising software which is commonly used by the developers of free apps to monetize their products. The developers used the code as they believed that apps would be shown within the apps, without knowing that its capabilities were more powerful than expected. The adware became quite popular, as more and more developers opted to include the code in their apps, which were then offered on the Play Store.
It appears that a large number of the apps which were affected are generic simulator games. Among them, we can find titles like Real Tractor Farming Simulator, Heavy Mountain Bus Simulator 2018, Excavator Wrecking Ball Demolition Simulator and other titles with interesting names. The firm which identified the adware has decided to call it SimBad, an obvious nod to the high amount of infected simulator games.
While Google does review apps before they are listed on the Play Store, the process is not as secure and strict as Apple’s review system for content which is available on the App Store. This is not the first incident related to apps which affect Google since the company has faced problems in the past. Hundreds of apps were delisted from the Google Store after complaints which described pornography-related ads that encouraged users to download apps which offered restricted content
Google noted that it strives to improve the process and detect faulty apps before issues appear and more steps will be taken in the future to increase the security and quality of the apps which are present on the Play Stoe.
Laura Modin has lived in Las Cruces her whole life. Laura has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade having contributed to several large publications including the Yahoo News and The The Santa Fe New Mexican. As a journalist for News Lair, Laura covers national and international developments.