The server then instructs the app to hide its icon to prevent deletion and tells which ads to display over which apps.
Security researchers on Friday disclosed the existence of malicious code buried inside dozens of apps that displayed pornographic images to users. "We appreciate Check Point's work to help keep users safe", a spokesperson for Google was reported by the publication The Next Web, as saying.
In some cases, the malware would also prompt users to register for premium services - meaning charges would be applied.
Upon investigation, Google said that none of the malicious apps were part of its Family collection, nor were the ads from Google. Google was keen to add that the issue doesn't exploit vulnerabilities in Android security, and that users' devices weren't affected.
Stories about malware apps living in Google Play aren't new, but the reason why this is concerning is that the primary target of these gaming apps are mostly kids. While the AdultSwine malware games only seem to display ads they receive from the C&C, there could be other unknown intentions of the attacker that are now unknown, possibly, credential theft. Other ads that play also try to trick the user into giving up their phone number by telling them they've won a prize.
The apps so far had been downloaded between 3 million and 7 million times, the researchers said, citing Google Play's data.
According to the reports of Financial Times, among those affected app some were very popular in children for gaming like Five Nights Survival Craft and McQueen Car Racing Game, and majority had over 1 million downloads.
To combat the spread of malware through the Google Play store, Google introduced Bouncer in 2012, which scans apps for threats before making them available for download.
All apps participating in the Designed for Families program must be relevant for children under the age of 13.
Cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. discovered the malware, which it named "AdultSwine", and informed Google about the infected games, some of which were targeted toward children.
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