Malware displaying pornographic material found in Google Play store apps targeting children

Malware displaying pornographic material found in Google Play store apps targeting children

Malware displaying pornographic material found in Google Play store apps targeting children

Google has removed the infected apps from the Play Store, but its doing so will not protect any of the millions of people (many of whom are likely children) who have already downloaded the apps; due to the way the Android ecosystem works, Google normally can not unilaterally delete infected apps that are already installed on devices.

The malicious code has been dubbed "AdultSwine" by researchers as it displays web advertisements that are often pornographic or inappropriate.

"The malicious code can use [also] its infrastructure to broaden its goals to other purposes, such as credential theft", explained Check Point. The attacker then selects which of the above three actions to take and then displays it on the device owner's screen. Only when you press the "Remove virus now" button can it install an "unnecessary and potentially harmful app" on your phone.

Another technique used by the malicious app is registering to premium services and charging the victim's account for fraudulent premium services they did not request. In another screenshot, one of the apps that were taken down reportedly showed a full-screen ad with the message: "New Leaked Kim Kardashian Pictures!"

The "virus removal solution" is anything but - it's another fake app.

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It also attempts to con users into installing fake "security apps" and forces users to register for premium services at the expense of the user. It does this through another popup that claims users can win an iPhone by answering some simple questions. It could view which app was now running and inject pornographic ads inside that too.

Likewise, some asked the users to write their phone numbers after telling them they had won a prize.

Collectively known as AdultSwine, each application contacted its Command and Control server and received instructions on whether to hide its icon and which ads to display. The apps weren't part of the household group, which is based on a program that will assist parents to find age-appropriate contents on the Play Store.

Due to the pervasive use of mobile apps, "AdultSwine" and other similar malicious apps will likely be continually repeated and imitated by hackers.

To the trained eye, this kind of deception stands out like a sore thumb and is easy enough to avoid, but worryingly, a number of the apps containing the malicious code are aimed squarely at children.

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