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Enlarge / Malicious apps found by Symantec Risk Intelligence popped up full display screen advertisements, and hid the app title even within the App Switcher view—making it troublesome for customers to know the place they had been coming from.

Symantec

This week, Symantec Risk Intelligence’s Might Ying Tee and Martin Zhang revealed that they’d reported a bunch of 25 malicious Android functions accessible by means of the Google Play Retailer to Google. In whole, the functions—which all share an identical code construction used to evade detection throughout safety screening—had been downloaded greater than 2.1 million instances from the shop.

The apps, which might conceal themselves on the house display screen a while after set up and start displaying on-screen commercials even when the functions had been closed, have been pulled from the shop. However different functions utilizing the identical methodology to evade Google’s safety screening of functions could stay.

Revealed beneath 22 totally different developer accounts, all the apps had all been uploaded throughout the final 5 months. The similarity in coding throughout the apps, nonetheless, means that the builders “could also be a part of the identical organizational group, or on the very least are utilizing the identical supply code base,” Might and Zhang wrote.

Many of the functions claimed to be both photograph utilities or fashion-related. In a single case, the app was a replica of one other, authentic “photograph blur” utility printed beneath the identical developer account title—with the authentic model having been featured as within the “prime trending apps” class of Google Play’s High Apps charts. “We imagine that the developer intentionally creates a malicious copy of the trending app within the hope that customers will obtain the malicious model,” Might and Zhang concluded.

Phoning house

At first, after set up, the malicious apps seem usually on the Android house display screen. However when launched, they retrieve a distant configuration file that features the malicious code. Key phrases related to the malicious exercise, together with the code to cover the app’s icon, are encrypted within the configuration file, “which we imagine is an effort on the malware authors’ half to keep away from rule-based detection by antivirus scanners,” defined Might and Zhang.

As soon as the configuration file is downloaded, the app extracts the settings and adjustments its habits accordingly. The app then hides its icon on the house display screen, after which begins displaying full-screen advertisements, even when the app is closed. “Full-screen commercials are displayed at random intervals with no app title registered within the commercial window, so customers haven’t any means of realizing which app is answerable for the habits,” the Symantec researchers famous.

Clearly, these malicious apps are meant to easily generate promoting income for his or her builders. “Due to the apps’ capacity to hide their presence on the house display screen, customers can simply overlook they downloaded them,” the researchers famous. And and not using a strategy to hyperlink the advertisements to a particular app, the builders have a captive viewers and are free to maintain pushing advertisements at their user-victims with out concern about their apps being uninstalled.

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