With the millions of apps available in the Google Play Store, it can sometimes be hard to sift through the real and the ones that are just masquerading as real apps but are just adware. Trend Micro was able to detect 85 such apps that were disguised as game, TV, and remote control simulator apps. Collectively, these apps have been downloaded 9 million times and so have affected just as many devices, unwittingly subjecting users to annoying and sometimes dangerous ads.

Among the 85 apps that they were able to detect, the most downloaded one is the Easy Universal TV Remote which supposedly turns your smartphone into a remote control for your TV. It has been downloaded more than 5 million times and has also received a lot of complaints due to the actual nature of the app. The good news is that after Google verified the report from Trend Micro, they immediately suspended all these fake apps.

While the apps were from different makers and different APK cert public keys, they actually share a similar behavior and even the same code. After you install it, you’ll see a full-screen ad pop up immediately and even if you close it, a call-to-action button will appear, asking you to “Start” or “Open app” or “Next”. When you tap it, another full-screen ad will come out and after you exit it, app-related options will appear. You’ll also get a prompt to rate the app five stars on Google Play Store, which if you’re smart, you won’t do.

If you click any of the buttons, another full-screen ad will show up and then you’ll see that the app is “buffering”. It will suddenly disappear on your screen, but even if you can’t see it anymore, it’s actually still running in the background. Worse, every 15 or 30 minutes, a full screen ad will appear on your screen. Some of the other apps even monitor your screen unlocking action and will show you an ad every time you do so.

So these adware apps are not just annoying, but they may actually compromise your device. So best to check and verify first any app before installing. Or if you want to, Trend Micro and other reliable security brands have some security solutions that you can use.

SOURCE: Trend Micro