A cybersecurity research group, Bitdefender, has recently warned about a massive adware infestation. The said infestation has imperilled the privacy of Android app users.
With over 60,000 Android applications compromised in the past six months, this burgeoning cybersecurity threat underscores the vulnerability of users’ personal information.
Adware, a software frequently bundled with other programs, displays intrusive ads on the user’s device. However, it doesn’t always seek the user’s consent. This consumes valuable resources, like battery life. In addition, it exposes users to potential privacy threats.
Approximately 55% of the affected applications targeted users in the United States. However, the infestation is not confined to the US.
These malfeasant applications are available on different third-party app store websites. They are mostly identified as imitations of popular programs available on the Play Store. Such programs include knock-offs of Netflix, ad-free versions of YouTube and TikTok, free VPN services, faux security programs, etc.
Users who click on a third-party website are redirected to different ad pages. These pages are deceptively designed to mimic a genuine app download page. Deceived by this ruse, the user inadvertently installs the adware. Post-installation, an error message pops up, offering an option to uninstall. However, despite selecting this option, the adware continues to operate clandestinely on the device.
According to Bitdefender, a significant number of tainted apps have been found in Brazil, Germany, and South Korea. It’s being said that the infestation started in 2022. Malactors distributed fake security software, cheats, game cracks, and utility apps in the alleged campaign using third-party sites.
Bitdefender claims that its innovative anomaly detection technology can unearth this threat. In fact, the tool has already detected the devious adware and saved users from persistent exploitation.
This incident underscores the need to procure apps exclusively from trusted sources like the official Google Play Store.
However, Bitdefender didn’t provide a detailed list of apps that have been the victim of the adware infestation. Meanwhile, Google has wiped off several malicious extensions from the Chrome web store. The tech giant expects this action to help minimize the chances of viewing unwanted ads while navigating through spam.
The widespread nature of this adware infestation in Android apps raises grave concerns about user privacy and security. In addition, this threat points to the importance of vigilance among users. It also calls for advanced protective measures to safeguard against adware and other forms of malware, say industry experts.