Warning Issued Against Malicious Apps Having Millions Of Downloads On Google Play And The App Store

Researchers are ringing the alarm again after locating plenty of threat actors known to be behind a new advertising app operation. While the operation was first delineated way back in 2019, experts believe the threat has expanded to other areas.

But the shocking part is related to how so many apps have undergone millions of downloads on both the App Store of Apple as well as Google Play. The actors have also been outlined as being sophisticated and evading threat detection systems.

At first, the report says that it was just limited to Android apps but now, the threat is mightier on Apple’s iOS system.

The news comes to us thanks to research published by the Human Security Satori team. This entailed around 80 different apps from Android (names featured below along with the total number of installs) that started to lurk around on Google Play, while only 9 of them were seen on the App Store, including Loot the Castle, Run Bridge, Shinning Gun, Racing Legend 3D, Rope Runner, Wood Sculptor, Fire-Wall, Ninja Critical Hit, com.TonyRuns.game.

Title of Android appsDownloads
Super Hero-Save the world!1,000,000
Arrow Coins500,000
Parking Master500,000
Lady Run100,000
Magic Brush 3D100,000
Shake Shake Sheep100,000
Number Combination: Colored Chips100,000
Jackpot Scratcher-Win Real5,000
Scratch Carnival50,000
Ztime:Earn cash rewards easily100,000
Billionaire Scratch50,000
Lucky Wings - Lotto Scratchers100,000
Lucky Star: Lotto Scratch50,000
Shake Shake Pig100,000
Lucky Money Tree100,000
Run And Dance100,000
Lucky Scratchers: Lotto Card1,000
Pull Worm10,000
Crowd Battle:Fight the bad guys5,000
Shoot Dummy - Win Rewards & Paypal Cash10,000
Spot 10 Differences1,000,000
Find 5 Differences - New1,000,000
Dinosaur Legend1,000,000
One Line Drawing1,000,000
Shoot Master1,000,000
Talent Trap - NEW1,000,000
Shoot it: Using Gun500,000
Super Flake500,000
Five-Star Slice500,000
Sand Drawing500,000
Mr Dinosaur: Play your Dino500,000
Track Sliding New500,000
Beat Kicker New100,000
Fill Color 3D100,000
Draw Live100,000
Draw 1 Stroke100,000
Fidget Cubes100,000
Girls Fight100,000
Ninja Assassin100,000
Shooting Puzzle 2020100,000
Pulley Parkour100,000
Chop Flake 3D100,000
Weapon Fantasy100,000
Balloon Shooter50,000
Musical Shoot50,000
Chop Slices50,000
Ninja Slice50,000
Work Now!50,000
Bottle Jump10,000
Corn Scraper10,000
Idle Wood Maker10,000
Pop Girls Schooler10,000
Romy Rush10,000
Spear Hero10,000
Dig Road Balls5,000
BOO Popstar1,000
Draw CompleteA1,000
Rush 2048:3D Shoot Cubes100
Meet Camera0
Auto Stamp Camera100+
Roll Turn1m+
Hiding Draw5k+
Peter Shoot100k+
Design n Road1k+
Draw Complete10k+
Thief King100k+
Downhill Race5k+
Draw a War10k+
Rescue Master1k+
Spin:Letter Roll100k+
Helicopter Attack - NEW500k+
Crush Car1m+
Relx cash100k+
War in Painting100+
Bike Extreme Racing50k+
Player Spiral Maker 3D50k+
Match 3 Tiles10k+
2048 Merge Cube - Win Cash10k+

As a whole, the team reports that such apps were being downloaded about 13 million times.

So after getting downloaded, these malicious apps affect other apps and make them rack up views for digital ads while playing hidden ads that users can’t detect. The whole idea is to gain fake views and even track users’ data.

By keeping a check and balance on what ads are being clicked on, they really do make the whole process so much more believable for obvious reasons.

The researchers claim they’ve flagged out the apps posing as a danger from such stores and have even highlighted how a group dubbed Scylla is behind the ordeal. At the start of their operation, the group was known as Poseidon and that was further changed to the name Charybdis. So as you can see, different tactics are being used to generate a new and more dangerous type of third attack from such actors.

But seeing the disruption take place is now a whole new evolution for threat actors getting exposed related to this particular scheme. Seeing the threat actors come around iOS apps is definitely a concern that people are noticing as it means the threat is getting bigger and expanding to other parts of the digital ecosystem.

Human Security reportedly joined hands with both Google and Apple to eliminate the threat and delete such apps from the stores but it’s an ongoing process as they’re collaborating with developers linked to advertising software to bring about the fallout in the threat campaign.

Read next: Torrenting and Piracy Platforms Are Exposing Users to Malware Through Ads
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