Google Play Store has proactively full-proofed its protection mechanisms for apps that are hosted on the platform. That said hackers are at times one step ahead, and the latest example is the Barcode Scanner app developed by Lavabird which has turned into a malware delivering application for the innocent users who have installed the app recently, or have had it for many years now. The discovery made by Malwarebytes on 4th December 2020 found out that the app indeed had SDK malware to flash ads from third-party providers.
According to Malwarebytes one of their forum patrons reported that ads were popping up on the phone from default browser. Later a patron by username Anon00 came across the Barcode Scanner app on his phone which was installed for quite some time now, and turned out to be the culprit.
Before the last update, the app was clean as a whistle, and post the update it turned out evil. The app used heavy obfuscation to prevent any detection by Play Store security mechanisms in place and Malwarebytes detected the malicious ‘Android/Trojan.HiddenAds.AdQR’ in the app code.
The app was reported to Google and removed immediately from the Play Store. However for unassuming users who have the app on their phone need to uninstall it manually ASAP.
With over 10 million downloads it is unfortunate that the Barcode Scanner app indeed turned out to be bad after years of trust. The intent to make money from ads by third-party clients pushed the developers into taking the decision to betray its users or maybe some hacker took over the app to insert the malware for the unknowing developer too.
In this case, the first scenario is more probable as Lavabird incorporated in March 2020 is registered in the UK although the maker Dmytro Kizema, is based in Ukraine. On checking the website, things don’t’ look promising as there’s only email address available.
Other apps from the same developer include the ones that speed up your phone, browser, and keyboard app. For now, you need to stay clear of anything by the developer, and also double-check if you have the Barcode Scanner app installed by Lavabird on your phone.