A study, conducted for two years by researchers from the University of Sydney and Data61 of CSIRO, discovered 2,040 counterfeit Android applications and malware-laden in the Google Play Store.
Researchers have studied over 1 million applications published on Google Play, also finding numerous fake apps without malware but requiring permissions to access “dangerous” data. Among the most counterfeit titles have been reported very popular games like Temple Run, Free Flow and Hill Climb Racing.
Researchers have used neural networks to identify visually similar app icons and partially plagiarized text descriptions of the first 10,000 most popular apps in the Play Store: the machine learning model has thus reported 49,608 potential counterfeits.
These results were then checked for malware with the VirusTotal online analysis tool and 7,246 of them were tagged by at least one anti-virus, the researchers narrowed the field even further, identifying 2,040 fake and high-risk apps.
The study also considered authorization requests and built-in ad libraries, finding 1,565 requests for at least five dangerous permissions and 1,407 of at least five embedded third-party ad libraries.
Dr. Suranga Seneviratne of the University of Sydney explained that these applications have managed to circumvent the automatic control processes of the Google Play Store and it is important, therefore, to always find new solutions to quickly remove the dangerous software.
Most of the apps identified by this study have already been removed following complaints and reports from users and the Google team has made it known in recent months that the number of rejected app submissions had increased by more than 55 percent in 2018, while app suspensions had increased by more than 66 percent.