Hundreds of millions of Android devices have potentially been compromised by malicious adware and ad fraud apps that on the surface appear to offer harmless services such as selfie filters, weather forecasts or VPN security, according to a trio of recently released research reports.
Late last week, researchers at mobile security company Wandera reported finding a pair of adware-spiked selfie filter apps in the Google Play Store, with more than 1.5 million downloads between them. A day later, a VPN review site reported that four virtual private network apps, collectively downloaded over 500 million times, were found to commit ad fraud. And just today, mobile technology firm Upstream warned that a weather forecasting app attempted to subscribe close to 700,000 mobile consumers to premium digital services without their consent over a six-month period.
Wandera identified the two selfie camera apps as Sun Pro Beauty Camera (more than 1 million downloads) and Funny Sweet Beauty Selfie Camera (more than 500,000 downloads). According to a company blog post, the apps deliver ads outside of the normal app environment, threatening to potentially disrupt productivity, brick devices and drain batteries.
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