It is good to see Google take action against the dozens of applications designed to steal information from the device user. All of these applications used a malicious advertising library, which has been identified as the AdDown adware. It is rather significant to see Google take such harsh actions against 75 applications at the same time. Then again, these threats need to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.
Info-stealing Android Apps Get Booted
Over the past few years, Android users have been hit with a lot of malicious applications. While some people may assume this is only normal when installing third-party APK files, a lot of these apps are found in the Google Play Store. In fact, Google has been actively removing a lot of malicious apps from its app store as of late. The latest “ban wave” involved 75 applications designed to steal user information.
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It turns out all of these apps use the AdDown adware as their advertising library. This particular type of malware has been on the radar of security researchers for several years now. We know AdDown is capable of collecting personal data from users, and potentially install harmful application on the infected device without user permission. A total of 800 different applications in the Google Play Store have used AdDown in the past, although the vast majority of them have been forcefully removed by Google.
It has to be said, AdDown has been through many different stages of evolution since it was discovered in 2015. Installing applications without user permission is a grave threat, and it was part of the first iteration of this adware in 2015. Thankfully, the developers removed this feature later on, although it didn’t make this malware any less of a threat. In the final iteration, AdDown was capable of avoiding sandbox environments altogether, which made life a lot more difficult for security researchers.
It is possible millions of Android users have been exposed to this malicious advertising library over the years. It is unclear how much damage has been done in the process, though. No one knows for sure how many malicious applications have been installed through the first version of this adware. Nor do we have any idea how much information has been stolen from users over the years either.
Thankfully, these applications have now been removed and the developers have been forced to strip out the advertising library altogether. It is certainly possible all of these applications will be reintroduced in the Google Play Store over time, but without the malicious capabilities. Google needs to take action against these types of intrusions, after all. There is no point in exposing Android users to potentially dangerous applications for no good reason.
It is evident cybercriminals will continue to target Android users as much as they can over the coming years. Mobile users often are less worried about sharing sensitive information, for some odd reason. This means there is a lot of information to be gathered from these users, if the right tools are deployed on a large scale. Malicious advertising malware is one way to achieve that goal, to say the least.
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