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Google removes 60 games infected with porn malware from Play Store


Google has removed nearly 60 games, many of which were for children, from its Play Store after a security research firm found they were infected with a pornographic malware. Researchers from Israel-based Check Point Software Technologies were the first to discover the malware. They have reported that the malware, dubbed as “AdultSwine”, displayed pornographic images that looked like advertisements designed to prompt users to download fake security software.

Google removes 60 games infected with porn malware from Play Store

As per the research firm’s report, these malicious apps wreak havoc in three possible ways:

  • Displaying ads on the web that are often highly inappropriate and pornographic.
  • Attempting to trick users into installing fake ‘security apps’.
  • Inducing users to register for premium services at the user’s expense.

Meanwhile, once the malicious app is installed on the device, it waits for a boot to occur or for a user to unlock his screen, upon which it initiates its malicious activity.

However, the tech giant acted immediately and kicked the apps out of Google Play Store. “We have removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them. We appreciate Check Point’s work to help keep users safe,” Google was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

Google maintained that the issue does not exploit vulnerabilities in its Android security and that users’ devices were not affected. The affected apps have been downloaded between three to seven million times, the researchers citing Google Play data, said. “Along with encouraging users to download scareware and pay for premium services, ‘AdultSwine’ also stole credentials,” the Check Point researchers noted.

The malware did this by contacting the developers’ Command and Control server once the app was downloaded, sending data about the infected device and receiving instructions on what to do next. According to Check Point, the instructions included displaying the bogus ads, scaring users to install fake security apps and charging victims for services they did not request or receive. Check Point has listed all the affected apps in its research post.

It is quite surprising that these apps found their way to the Play Store. Google already has a safety feature called Google Play Protect integrated into its platform. The feature has been designed to constantly check apps as well as periodically scans devices for harmful apps in order to remove them.

Amidst this absurd case, Google has sent a statement to The Verge saying that “it also has a Family collection on the Play Store to help parents find age-appropriate content and Family Link, a program for family safety that manages which apps children can use.” Google has said that the company manually reviews ads and has strict category checks to help children have a safe experience. The apps in the family program have not been affected.



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