It seems that hackers have managed to breach Google’s defenses and uploaded malicious applications that made already 1.2 million victims. Through these applications, hackers hijacked phones and sent fake ad clicks to pornography sites.
According to ESET researcher Peter Stancik, there are 343 malicious Android applications that haven’t been detected by Google’s scanners since they were uploaded in August, last year, to the Play store. Each week, there are ten malicious applications that are successfully uploaded to the Android store, tricking the code-checking defense mechanisms that they’re harmless, and until now, each one of them has been downloaded 3600 times. Stancik said that “In one of the largest malware campaigns on the Google Play Store yet, criminals continue to upload further variants of these malicious apps to the official app store for the Android mobile platform”, and “These porn clickers not only made it into the store, but they also successfully compromised user devices. After installation, they generate fake clicks on advertisements to generate revenue for their operators, robbing advertisers and harming advertising platforms.”
Those who were uninspired to install these applications haven’t been subject to data theft, but they were shocked when they saw the monthly data usage bills. Previous attacks were targeting victim’s bank credentials and hackers stole their data, but this is a “true campaign” and attackers have “the upper hand”, according to ESET researcher Lukáš Štefanko.
Google is trying hard to get rid of all malicious applications, but they’re multiplying like mushrooms, passing the filtering tool. ESET has explained that the “verify apps” security setting is flagging only malicious applications that have been banned from the Play Store before. The team from ESET considers that Google “should probably apply more filters that actually execute the malicious code hidden in the fake app [and use] clustering [for] similar fake applications.”
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