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A set of 21 android apps infected with malware has been discovered by Czech antivirus maker Avast. The apps are said to have been downloaded around eight million times. The security firm claims that the affected apps have adware, called HiddenAds, that disguises itself in fun or useful applications, but actually exist to serve up intrusive ads outside the app. The malware, first discovered in 2019, can also hide the app icon – making it difficult for users to uninstall them, and hide behind relevant-looking advertisements, making them hard to identify, added the report. Google has removed most of these apps from the Play Store, but if you have downloaded them, you should uninstall them right away.
List of infected apps removed from Google Play Store:
- Shoot Them
- Crush Car
- Rolling Scroll
- Helicopter Attack – New
- Assasin Legend – 2020 New
- Helicopter Shoot
- Rugby Pass
- Flying Skateboard
- Iron it
- Shooting Run
- Plant Monster
- Find Hidden
- Rotate Shape
- Jump Jump
- Sway Man
- Dessert Against
- Cream Trip – New
- Props Rescue
Two out of the 21 infected apps were still available on the Google Play Store for download at the time of writing this article. The apps are named Find 5 Differences – 2020 NEW and Find the Differences – Puzzle Game. Avast malware analyst Jakub Vavra said that developers of adware are increasingly using social media channels as regular marketers would. The apps, as stated above, mimic popular games, and the criminal group behind this operation relied on social media ads and marketing to draw users to their Play Store pages.
While Google is doing everything possible to prevent HiddenAds from entering its Play Store, the malicious apps keep finding new ways to disguise their true purpose, thus slipping through to the platform and then to users’ phones,” Vavra added. He also reiterates what pretty much every security analyst does – users need to be vigilant when downloading applications on their phones. They should check the applications’ profile, reviews, and be mindful of extensive device permission requests.
The infected apps, discovered by Avast, joins an ever-growing list of malicious apps that Google has removed from the Play Store over the years. In recent months, the search engine giant pulled 17 apps infected with the Joker malware that could steal your money, SMSes, contact lists, and device information. It also removed 30+ apps indulged in fraudulent activities in June and 25 apps that were caught stealing Facebook credentials in July.
How to uninstall hidden apps:
If you have one of these apps on your phone and can’t find it in the app drawer. Follow the steps below
- To uninstall hidden apps, go to the phone’s Settings menu > Apps > and search for the app
- After you get the search result, select the app and tap the ‘Uninstall’ option from the following screen
- That’s it, the app will be removed permanently from your phone