More than 300 Play Store apps found to be using devices as clickfarms

More than 300 Play Store apps found to be using devices as clickfarms

Today marks the latest occasion of malware-infected apps being detected on the Google Play Store — the third one this month. But while in the previously-reported cases the malicious apps were used for stealing private data or displaying obtrusive ads, today's crop is more concerned with using your phone to farm fraudulent ad clicks.

The way this works is simple: infected apps are constantly requesting ads and then claiming the user has clicked on them, which generates ad revenue for the fraudster. And although this may not sound like that big of a deal, it results in both battery and mobile data drain, as well as potential lag on low-end devices. Or to put things in perspective, a single app left overnight requested more than 3,000 ads and "clicked" on 169 of them.

The numbers associated with this kind of malware are impressive, too: more than 300, with a cumulative 4–14 million installs. The apps themselves are mostly live wallpapers or simple utilities — the researchers specifically pointed the finger at the following app developers: Attunable, Classywall, Firamo, FlameryHot, NeonApp, Goopolo, Litvinka Co, Livelypapir, Tuneatpa Personalization, Waterflo, X Soft, and Zheka.

The research comes from ad fraud detection agency eZanga, who claims to have immediately notified Google of the malicious apps. And while Google has historically been quick to take action in similar occasions, it seems clear its current malware detection practices aren't working as well as they should be.

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27 Comments

1. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"Or to put things in perspective, a single app left overnight requested more than 3,000 ads and "clicked" on 169 of them." Three thousand ads?! That's why I root my handset and use Super User. Nothing happens without my permission... In fact, access granted to any app expires after 30 minutes, and any network-related activity from any app (except my web browser) is blocked after 10pm - which is my average bedtime. So this overnight request of 3,000 ads isn't happening in my device, whether the malware app is still running in or not. Not messing around.

14. Zylam

Posts: 1771; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

And tell us again how every single Android phone comes with root build in?

18. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

WTF are you talking about? I spoke of*my* device in post #1, and I definitely do not use every single Android phone on the market. Point out where I said every single Android phone comes with root built in or GET LOST.

25. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

He's just obsessed with Android users.

27. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Same here, XPrivacy is one of the first things I install on my phone after a fresh system setup. Nothing happens on my Android without my permission.

2. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

This shouldn't surprise anyone as its a well known fact that Android is unsafe even if you download from Google Play Store. Fanboys can make as much excuses as they want but they won't change the fact. If you want to have privacy and security, stay away from Android. Android is only good for those who cannot afford iPhone. Those who can, there is no reason to use insecure and laggy OS which offers no privacy.

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3088; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Stay away from windows and ios and Mac OS. Enjoy.

11. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

The thing here is that it is difficult to get infected if you're using iOS or MacOS. Its not so simple like in Windows or Android.

26. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Windows and Android are simple... Slow clap...

5. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5474; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Haha so predictable that you would comment here. You only comment on these kind of articles to spew your bullsh*t comments. You really need to get out of your mom's basement more and get a life.

9. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

Android fans always butthurt and in denial. Write some mature reply with facts next time rather than another childish basement insult.

13. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5474; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

"Android is only good for those who cannot afford iPhone. Those who can, there is no reason to use insecure and laggy OS which offers no privacy." Talk about immature and not based on facts at all. You keep repeating the same comment over and over, which shows to me a lot more butthurt and immaturity. If you had any intelligent comment to share, I would gladly reply with an equally intelligent comment or argument back. But you don't want an intelligent conversation, you just came here to spew the words privacy, security and laggy over and over again.

22. sissy246

Posts: 6919; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

OMG apps in the app store has had s**t happen also. So don't act like it never happens to ios

7. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"there is no reason to use insecure and laggy OS which offers no privacy." Laggy OS? Yet your beloved iOS and iPhone crashes more apps and have the highest failure rate... Are you even for real? Anf you talk about iOS security?http://iphone.appleinsider.com/articles/16/03/16/acedeceiver-malware-secretly-installs-malicious-apps-onto-ios-devices It spread through Apple's App Store itself. My point is that no electronic devoce is safe from malware and hacking Woth Android being open source, I can increase the security of the OS myself.

8. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

What you need to understand is this company does reports every single year and they go to great lengths to make Android better than iOS. This is why they refuse to count crash and freeze rates of the devices themselves. And they don't include repairs by officially licensed Apple Store repair services. Apps are gonna be more stable on Android than iOS for multiple reasons and they're not mentioned. For instance Apple update iOS far more often than Google does Android when it comes to security fixes. This will cause some apps to become more unstable. Also far more Android devices are on older versions of Android than on older versions of iOS which also leads to lower crash rates. And then the updates of apps themselves. For every update of an app you risk the app being less stable and more updates involved to fix the issue. AppStore apps are updated far more than Android apps are. So yes the app crash rates are gonna be higher on iOS than Android.

21. bucknassty

Posts: 1265; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

you mean the monthly security update? on android? you're telling me.... iOS gets more than a monthly security update????? very.... VERY interesting.... seeing as my iphone 7 here has not seen an update since 10.3.2.... interesting

15. Settings

Posts: 2942; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Every OS on the universe lags.

3. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3088; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

No one is safe.

6. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Again Google is on it's knees.....lol In that regard Apple does a really great job in the malware + privacy department.

10. MattPerkins1

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

Android fanboys here are not gonna understand it. They'll stay happy with their poorly performing insecure OS with no privacy.

12. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3088; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Once you go online with any platform, privacy is non existence.

23. sissy246

Posts: 6919; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

s**t I hate when I agree with you, lol

16. tokuzumi

Posts: 1765; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

This site just became a click farm for me. I had a full page ad on the screen, and clicked the "X". A new tab opened, and the ad I "closed" opened in a new tab

17. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3088; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Ad block is your best friend.

19. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

You should hit the back button to close the fullscreen ad. Clicking on the "X" will not close it but only redirect you. I knew this trick ever since and nearly ads on thr web today do that.

20. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

*near all ads on the web today do that". The device which I browse with has a capacitive back button, so I just tap on it instead of clicking "X" to close a pop up ad. If hitting the back button doesn't work, then an Ad blocker will work, of course!

24. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Never use a ad blocker until I join this site. Good job PA for showing me the way.

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