Researchers have discovered dozens of malicious apps in the Google Play Store that show advertisements even when the phone’s screen is turned off.

According to experts at antivirus company McAfee, these apps are attempting to commit ad fraud. This deceit doesn’t only affect advertisers who pay for unseen ads but also regular users. Investigator SangRyol Ryu warns that this fraud drains the battery more quickly, consumes data, and might even cause personal information leaks.

Specific Apps Targeting Korean Users, Affecting Millions

In total, these 43 malicious apps, which had been downloaded 2.5 million times, primarily targeted Korean users. They disguised themselves as TV/DMB Players, music downloaders, news apps, and calendars. Once installed, these apps wait for the device to be idle and the screen to be off, then display the hidden ads.

By doing this, the apps hope to avoid detection for their fraudulent behavior. Advertisers pay for these unseen ads, losing money without reaching real viewers.

McAfee’s Advice: Be Careful with App Permissions

McAfee emphasizes the importance of users being cautious about the permissions they grant to apps. For example, these deceptive apps asked for specific permissions like “power-saving exclusions” and the ability to display content over other apps. After being alerted, Google has taken action by removing the concerning apps from the Play Store or modifying them by the developer to eliminate the deceptive practices.

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Last Update: August 8, 2023