50 Malicious Android Apps Bypassed Google Play Protection and Infected 30 Million Android Users

by chebbi abir

More than 50 malicious apps with more than 30 Million installations found on Google play, that display annoying ads and in some cases, it convinces the user to install other apps.

According to Avast, all the malicious apps are linked together using the third party Android libraries to bypasses background restrictions with the newer versions of Android.

These libraries referred to as “TsSdk” and it displays the more and more annoying ads which are against Play Store policy.

Avast research found that the malicious apps were installed more than 30 million times from Google Play before it was removed.

50 Malicious Apps on Google Play

Two versions of adware spotted, the version A installed more than 3.6 million times. The adware included in following apps simple games, fitness, and photo editing apps.

These apps found mostly installed in India, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

“Version A is not very well obfuscated and the adware SDK is easy to spot in the code. It is also the less prevalent of the two versions. Some variants of version A also contain code that downloads further applications, prompting the user to install them, ” reads Avast blog post.

version B of TsSdk installed nearly 28 million times, the adware includes fitness and music apps. These apps often downloaded in Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Nepal, and Great Britain.

Once installed it shows ads within the first hour of the installation and then at frequent intervals. For the first four hours, it shows full-screen ads and then randomly like 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 45 minutes once.

Version B doesn’t seem to work on Android version 8.0(Oreo), due to recent changes in background service management. Full list of the malicious app can be found here.

Common Defences and Mitigations

  • Give careful consideration to the permission asked for by applications.
  • Download applications from trusted sources.
  • Stay up with the latest version.
  • Encrypt your devices.
  • Make frequent backups of important data.
  • Install anti-malware on their devices.
  • Stay strict with CIA Cycle.


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