Google reportedly removed 13 apps containing malware with over 500,000 downloads on playstore. This was revealed by ESET security researcher Lukas Stefanko in a tweet. these apps were downloaded and installed over half a million times. The malicious apps could allow attackers to install another app and trick the user into giving the permissions necessary for the installation.
According to report, All these malware containing apps are posing as games, that were published by the same developer named Luis O Pinto . The main motive behind these apps were to monetize with pusing unsolicited advertisements to the user when they unlock the device. once downloaded, the malicious apps would remove their icon from the display immediately and downloads other malicious apps in the background.
Stefanko reported that these apps don't have any features or functionality, they were using it only as downloaders that can bypass Google Play security checks. after downloading, they install the apk name Game Center which executes and hides itself, and start displaying ads.
These malicious apps also requests permissions for full network access and to view network and Wi-Fi connections, and to run at startup.
Don't install these apps from Google Play - it's malware.— Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) November 19, 2018
-all together 560,000+ installs
-after launch, hide itself icon
-downloads additional APK and makes user install it (unavailable now)
-2 apps are #Trending
-no legitimate functionality
App functionality demonstration pic.twitter.com/11HskeD56S— Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) November 19, 2018
Stefanko confirmed that Game Center is no longer available at the playstore, after being informed of the fraudulent applications Google removed them from Google Play. This is not the first time google is removing apps from playstore due to malware.
In January this year, Google said in a blog post that it removed more than 7,00,000 apps that violated the Google Play policies and 1,00,000 bad developers from the Play Store in 2017. In 2017, Google claims to have taken down over a quarter of a million of apps, which were impersonating well known or more famous apps. Last year, an auto-clicking adware called Judy was discovered on 41 apps and said to have affected between 8.5 million and 36.5 million Android devices.