SimBad adware apps downloaded from Google Play almost 150 million times

GettyImages-Android malware

With Android Q, those apps would have to present themselves as keyboards, something that isn't entirely convenient for both users and developers. Together these apps had 150 million downloads and most of the affected ones are simulator games.

Researchers at Israeli cyber security firm Check Point have blown the whistle on a dodgy software development kit (SDK) that rendered hundreds of popular Android apps a threat to their users. For example, if a feature allows a user to search for a restaurant nearby, the app only needs to understand the user's location when the user opens the app to search for a restaurant. With so many utterly hopeless Android anti-malware apps, AV-Comparatives recommends you stick to the well-known brands.

A seperate group of 32 apps were later pulled from the Google Play Store during the testing process. It could also send users to the Play Store or other markets where infected apps were available.

Most of the tested apps had a review score of four or higher on Google Play's five-star scale, making it hard for users to derive any meaningful, impartial information about an app's efficacy, AV Comparatives reports.

Past security research has also uncovered hackers exploiting fake antivirus apps to trick unassuming users into downloading malware to their devices.

Use only trustworthy AV, not this garbage that after scan makes you uninstall nearly all of your apps because its nonsense detection rules.

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Only 23 apps had a 100 percent success rate with all malware samples.

There can be risks in using whitelists.

AV Comparatives says a handful of apps it tested have now been flagged by other security software as Trojans or "potentially unwanted applications", a category reserved for apps that may have some legitimate functionality but also sport other, questionable features, such as bombarding users with ads. It was found that numerous antivirus apps instead of scanning the apps, simply used a whitelist/blacklist approach based on package names than relying on the code for deciding whether an app is risky or harmless.

"SimBad comes with a respected list of capabilities on the user's device, such as removing the icon from the launcher, thus making it harder for the user to uninstall, start to display background ads and open a browser with a given URL", said the Check Point researchers.

One potential problem, however, is that the change seems to affect any app running under Android Q, whether that app targets the version of Android or not. A few more were over 99 percent effective.

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