Monday, 19 November, 2018

Android malware potentially exposes adult content to millions of children

AdultSwine operation flow AdultSwine operation flow
Derrick Tucker | 16 January, 2018, 01:15

The malware would accomplish this by displaying advertisements in the victim's web browser that claimed the device was infected or prompted them to download an app to remove a virus.

Aside from the obvious issues of the apps themselves, this isn't the first time malignant apps have found their way to the Play Store. Some of these games are intended for children, and according to Google, have been downloaded between three and seven million times so far.

The "AdultSwine" malware can also make scary notifications pop up on the infected device's screen to fool someone into installing applications they do not need.

Collectively known as AdultSwine, each application contacted its Command and Control server and received instructions on whether to hide its icon and which ads to display. The ads load from both an AdultSwine-specific library of advertisements as well as from legitimate third-party advertisement providers (which, of course, have terms of service that prohibit partners from using their ads in such a fashion).

As well as throwing up explicit content, AdultSwine also attempted to trick users into downloading other apps, including dodgy "security" apps that, ironically, promised to help protect the device against malicious content. The company clarified that the inappropriate ads within the apps were not Google ads.

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In an attempt to prevent the distribution of malware, Google - like several other operators of app stores - scans every program loaded into the Play Store; unfortunately, however, malware is not always simple to detect.

Researchers at Check Point warned that while the majority of AdultSwine's functionality amounted to annoyance and small financial burdens, it had the potential to be much more damaging and could have been used to steal login credentials from victims, which could lead to sensitive information being compromised.

While numerous infected apps were relatively obscure, Check Point notes that a handful of them were popular.

"We've disabled the developers' accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them". In another screenshot, one of the apps that were taken down reportedly showed a full-screen ad with the message: "New Leaked Kim Kardashian Pictures!"

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