Google Play Store contains adware disguised as VPN apps

Several VPN providers available in the Play Store are malware ad apps in disguise and this is something that needs attention. Although Google Play Store is trying out various policies just to reduce the risks of malware apps but we guess the malware problem isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

According to VPNtesting, there are some Android VPN apps with more than 500 million downloads that are manipulating users by running ads in the background and most of the ads are placed outside the apps including home screen as well.

The apps that are accused of serving ads to users include Free VPN Master, Hotspot VPN, Secure VPN and Security Master by Cheetah Mobile.

What do these malware apps do?

The HotspotVPN 2019 contains advertisement APIs from Google and Facebook, and along with that it also contains a code that displays full screens ads to mobile owners at any time irrespective of whether the phone is working in the foreground or not. This advertisement on full screen consumes not just battery but also CPU as well. The app Free VPN Master developed by Freemaster2019 also contains similar codes that serve Google ads with both files of APK having the same files and structure as well.

According to the report, if the user forcefully stops the apps from Android settings then they won’t be serving ads anymore but if the users open the app at least once after the download it will usually increase the number advertisements displayed on the screen.

Another app named Secure VPN by SEC VPN is one of the worst malware ad apps that serve ads to people even when they’re using other apps and it can also overlaid the top of the home screen resulting in hiding app icons. According to the report, these apps usually recorded activities of users to display ads.

The behavior Security Master app shows are sophisticated as compared to other apps like when a user attempts to get back to the home screen or when specific buttons are clicked, it only displays ads then.

Well if you look at these apps, these ad-supported apps are something we’ve always seen but the battery drainage and CPU usage are what is making us worried.

According to Google policies, the platform does not allow apps that display ads to users outside the apps or show some deceptive or disruptive ads. So Google is expected to take action on these apps if they’re found guilty of violating its policies.

Google Play Store in the hot water

This is not the first time that Google was accused of hosting ad malware apps on its platform. In August, an ESET security researcher presented a report containing 204 apps on Google Play with more than 438 million downloads and these apps were found as adware apps or serving some other kinds of malware to users.


Although with the Mountain View behemoth’s antivirus efforts, thousands of harmful adware apps were removed from the Play Store but this security layer still couldn’t protect the platform from all sorts of malware apps. So to be safe, only download apps from official sources that can guarantee security.

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