Google has deleted several dozen apps - many of them aimed at kids - after a security firm found that they contain malware that could show pornographic pop-up ads. The discovery was made by Check Point Software Technologies with Silicon Valley offices in San Carlos.
Check Point said it expected AdultSwine and similar malware to be repeated and imitated by hackers, warning users to be extra vigilant when installing apps, especially those intended for use by children. Check Point characterized the material as pornographic.
In a statement to the Financial Times, a Google spokesperson said "We've removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers' accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them". The ads were not Google ads, according to Google. The app also works with Android Wear devices and features Chromecast support.
If the victim selects the "remove virus now" option, the malware directs the victim to another malicious app in the Google Play Store posing as a virus removal tool. All of these are displayed to children on a rotating basis while they play the infected games.
The Malware also sought to trick users into installing fake security apps, and could open the door for other attacks such as theft of user credentials, Check Point said. After the fake "ads" were delivered, users would have received a "Remove Virus Now" notification, or something similar, created to provoke users into downloading the scareware. It also meant to get users to buy worthless premium services, the researchers found.
"An experienced eye could easily foresee this tactic, though a child playing a game app is easy prey for such nefarious apps", the researchers said.
A complete list of the affected apps is available in Check Point's report. The phone number would be used to register for premium services.
It also has a much wider range of malicious activities that it could pursue because the malware simply receives a target link from its command and control server and displays it to the user. The most popular include Five Nights Survival Craft, Mcqueen Car Racing Game, Addon Pixelmon for MCPE, CoolCraft PE, and Exploration Pro WorldCraft.