Mobile security company Lookout has revealed that a new investigation has uncovered hundreds of Apps with new adware available on the Google Play Store. Making the situation even worse, the analyzed applications count on more than 440 million downloads.
This new “BeiTaAd” adware does not (at all) pose a risk to user privacy, but is so aggressive that it can make a smartphone completely unusable.
What is adware and what does this “BeiTaAd” in concrete?
An adware is a software created with the aim of presenting unwanted ads to users, in a very intrusive way. With the exponential growth of smartphones, they quickly became one of the main targets of many hackers.
“BeiTaAd” more specifically, presents itself as an extremely aggressive adware. Hidden ‘genial’ within the application code, it can take anywhere from 24 hours to 14 days to activate. Once on the go, adware ‘takes over the phone’, starting to display unwanted ads on literally everywhere.
This type of ads, nicknamed out-of-app ads , bombard the user with advertising all the time and in any situation. Whether it’s during a call, while browsing the menus, reading messages in WhatsApp or even when the phone is idle and locked.
The action of this adware is so aggressive that it can even make a smartphone totally unusable.
Which applications contain this adware
According to the report published by Lookout, all applications found with “BeiTaAd” were published by the company CooTek. Despite all indications that the company was aware of the presence of this adware in its Apps, Lookout claims they do not have enough evidence to give full responsibility to CooTek.
Among the most popular applications, we find the TouchPal Keyboard. It remains available on the Google Play Store and has more than 5 million installations. The portfolio of CooTek presented in its official website, also has the following applications:
- Step Tracker
- Abs Workout
- Drink Water Reminder
- Horoscope Secret
- Blue Light Filter
- TouchPal PhoneBook
You can see the complete list published by Lookout at the end of the article published in his official blog .
Google makes clear this breach of its terms and conditions
While Lookout’s detailed report proves that CookTek is responsible for all applications where adware was identified, Google has taken no punitive action.
As a result of the company’s security report, applications have been removed or simply ‘fixed’ in order to eliminate adware. Google maintained a neutral stance, when it would be expected to ban the company from making apps available to Android users again.
Once again, this event proves that the security systems implemented in the Play Store are far from perfect. So keep your eyes open when you’re looking for apps in the Google store and do not install anything that looks minimally dubious.