When you’re bored and just want to download more gaming apps on your smartphone, there are times when you don’t know that the game you’re downloading is actually not a game. There are tons of adware out there masquerading as games and you’ll realize too late you’ve been duped. Avast has discovered and reported 21 more games that are part of the HiddenAds family and have actually been downloaded by millions. As of writing, only two of the apps have been suspended with the other 19 still being investigated.
Developers have become savvier so as to get more people to download their adware. One of their strategies has been to pose as gaming apps and to use social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, etc to lure people into downloading their apps. They get people by using descriptive ads like “let your car fly across the road, trees, hills,” or by telling people they can shoot criminals from a helicopter and other common gaming come-ons.
But after you’ve downloaded the game, your phone will now get peppered with intrusive ads. The 21 apps they reported are part of the HiddenAds family which Avast also previously reported on. These are basically Trojan horses that disguise themselves as a “safe and useful application” but turn out to just be carriers of intrusive ads that will follow you outside of the app. The apps also have aggressive, disruptive, and stealth features like hiding your icons and displaying relevant looking ads that actually make it harder for you to identify and remove them.
So ideally, to avoid being fooled by these kinds of apps, it would be best to look at the reviews. Generally, they will have a lot of 5-star and 1-star reviews, with some being overly enthusiastic but also some complaints about the excessive ads. The developer account also will have just one game under it which should already raise your suspicion. Apparently, they do this so if the app does get suspended, only one app will be affected and the others can continue to dupe more people.