Adware Users Beware!

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Hidden code has been discovered in several popular apps on the official Google Play store. The code forces malicious ads to pop up. Mark James discusses the rising threat of malware on Android devices.

As reported by the BBC, potentially millions of users could have been effected. The apps in question are a free version of the Durak card game, a Russian IQ test, a Russian history app and potentially more apps from the same developer.

The adware made ads appear as notifications, usually as the phone was unlocked. The ads themselves claim that your phone or internet is running slowly and they can fix it.

Tapping on one of the ads can lead you down a rabbit hole of nasty third-party app stores and dodgy downloads: including aps that dial or send texts to premium rate numbers in the background.

How easy is it?

“Getting a page or pop up to display on the users phone trying to trick the user into following a link to an infected app is a relatively simple thing to do,” Mark explains.

“If the threat is perceived as genuine with an intention to resolve the problem for free or a very small amount the end user will, in a lot of cases, follow those links and install the software.

“People still don’t grasp the power they hold in the palm of their hands and often forget that phones these days are powerful mini computers.

The need for caution is often overlooked, with the need to have the latest apps, or the need to “save some time” with an app installed on your phone. Users do not have the same concerns regarding device security that they do on their computers at home.”

Are we seeing the same threats on PC and Android?

“Threats on our mobiles tend to edge towards abusing premium rate phone numbers through subscribed texting or calling.” These premium rate phone numbers can charge upwards of £1 a second, plus a connection fee.

“ On the other hand stealing your personal data and trying to download other malicious apps to infect your systems, be found on the PC as well as the goal is ultimately the same just a different platform to deliver it on.

“It’s easier to fool the end user as security measures are often not installed or even disabled on mobile phones.”

How can this be best avoided?

“Of course an Antivirus product will go a long way in protecting you, but education and common sense are the key.

“Where possible download apps from a trusted source, ALWAYS read the reviews as often other users are your best source of “real life” information regarding apps.

“Have a browse over the permissions that are required when you install an app and don’t accept the first app you find. Do a little research and look at a few, you might find a better or alternative app that does not require access to your personal information.

“Also keep an eye on your mobile account throughout the month; it might give you an early indicator that something is wrong.”

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Have you ever been affected by mobile malware?