Android Users: If your phone has been slow and/or buggy, you may want to read this.
*Note: Google has suspended downloads for the apps mentioned in this article as of today, but you may still need to take action if you are already infected. If you are in doubt, the best course of action is to remove the suspected app from your phone. Please email us if you need assistance!
From PC Mag:
Several Popular Android Apps Infected With Adware
If your Android device has been acting funny lately, some buggy apps might be to blame.
Researchers at security firm Avast have discovered that several popular Android apps found in the official Google Play store are harboring adware.
The most popular of the adware-laden apps is a card game called Durak, which has racked up between 5 and 10 million downloads. Other affected apps include an IQ test app, which has received between 1 and 5 million installs, and a Russian history app, which has been installed between 10,000 and 50,000 times.
“When you install Durak, it seems to be a completely normal and well working gaming app,” Avast’s Filip Chytry wrote in a blog post Tuesday, adding that the same is true for the other affected apps. “After a week, you might start to feel there is something wrong with your device.” Some of the apps wait up to 30 days to start showing “their true colors,” he added.
Once activated, the problem will be apparent. Each time you unlock your device, an annoying pop-up appears warning you about a problem on your phone. It might say your phone is infected, out of date, or full of porn.
“This, of course, is a complete lie,” Chytry wrote. “You are then asked to take action, however, if you approve you get re-directed to harmful threats on fake pages, like dubious app stores and apps that attempt to send premium SMS behind your back or to apps that simply collect too much of your data for comfort while offering you no additional value.”
In some instances, users are being directed to legit security apps on Google Play, something Chytry found surprising. The security apps are benign, but even if you install them, the unwanted ads don’t let up.
As of Tuesday afternoon, all three affected apps were still available for any Google Play user to download. In a statement to PCMag on Tuesday, a Google spokeswoman said that the company was investigating the issue.
The company later said it has suspended all affected apps.
Chytry said this threat is an example of good social engineering. “I believe that most people will trust that there is a problem that can be solved with one of the apps advertised [as] ‘solutions’ and will follow the recommended steps, which may lead to an investment into unwanted apps from untrusted sources,” he said.
For now, be careful what you download, and don’t trust these type of relentless pop-ups. And check out our picks for The 100 Best Android Apps of 2015 in the slideshow above.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Wednesday to note that Google has suspended the affected apps.