Security researchers have discovered a batch of ad-fraud-enabling apps that have collectively been downloaded more than 2 million times on the Google Play store. The clever malware is able to impersonate various models of smartphones while it goes wild clicking online ads and draining your battery. On Thursday, anti-virus provider Sophos published a report describing its discovery of 22 Android apps that contained a variety of malware the company has named “Andr/Clickr-ad.” The apps come from a variety of small developers, and Sophos said that Google removed them from its Play store at the end of November. One of the offending apps, Sparkle Flashlight, had been downloaded more than a million times and many of them had strong reviews, according to Sophos. The apps would contact a common attacker-controller server, mobbt.com, to download an ad-fraud module, and they would receive a command from the server every 80 seconds, the researchers found. The malware’s job was to open a window that was 0 pixels x 0 pixels in size, and therefore unnoticeable by the user. It would proceed to repeatedly click on ads, juicing the network’s numbers and bringing in fraudulently acquired revenue. No specific ad network that may have benefited from the fraud was identified. While users probably wouldn’t want to participate in this fraud for any reason, the direct consequence for anyone who downloaded these apps is that their data and battery life was constantly being depleted. Even if the app was force-closed, they automatically started up again in… [Read full story]
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