- These apps have a hide icon feature that allows them to go under the radar before spamming your phone with ads
- These apps have been classified as HiddenAds by researchers at Avast
Researchers at popular cybersecurity firm Avast have claimed that they have discovered “a large campaign of HiddenAds” on the Google Play store. ‘HiddenAds’ is essentially a family of Trojans that disguise as useful and authentic applications, but eventually work towards serving intrusive ads to the users. In case your device has suddenly started spamming you with ads and you do not know the root cause of this behaviour, you might have installed one of these apps on your device. Notably, as these apps eventually hide themselves, you most likely won’t even remember that you had them on your phone. Before we go into detail, just check if your phone as any of these 19 apps on your phone, which have been highlighted by Avast as ‘HiddenAds’ and remove them as soon as possible:
|Draw Color by Number||1,000,000|
|Find Hidden Differences||1,000,000|
|Spot Hidden Differences||500,000|
|Dancing Run – Color Ball Run||500,000|
|Find 5 Differences||500,000|
|Throw into Space||500,000|
|Divide it – Cut & Slice Game||500,000|
|Fly Skater 2020||500,000|
“Based on the conducted research, it appears the campaign initially mainly targeted users in India and South East Asia. The apps likely spread through game ads focused in these regions. Due to the generic developer details and Terms of Service, the developers of the HiddenAds campaign remain unknown,” Avast said in its blog post.
While these apps have been removed from Google Play store, users who installed these apps earlier might still have them installed on their phone. As these apps tend to hide themselves, we would recommend you to search for these apps actively and remove them from your phone as soon as possible.
If we go by the percentage share, 21 percent of the affected devices were found to be from Brazil while 8.1 percent from India. These were the two most affected countries due to these apps. Considering that these apps have the capability of displaying ads outside their own app is itself extremely alarming and puts them in the category of adware.
In its blogpost, Avast says that one of the key features, which was common across these apps, was that they came with the appearance of a mobile game. As we mentioned earlier these apps come with hide icon feature that would trigger after a certain amount of time on its own. This is why we would strongly recommend you to delete if any of these apps are available on your device and check for the permissions that a new app requires before installing them. If you think the app is requesting for permissions that it should not require to function, you might want to stay away from it.