The Google Play Store is once again the target of malware, reports TrendMicro. According to the researchers, 85 popular Android apps hide advertising software called “AndroidOS_Hidenad.HRXH”. Intended to display intrusive ads on the screen of your smartphone, the malware has been downloaded more than 8 million times before Google intervenes.
In a report released August 16, 2019, Trend Micro security researchers say they have discovered the presence of a new adware malware on the Play Store. Unsurprisingly, the AndroidOS_Hidenad.HRXH malware violates the regulations imposed by Google to display advertisements on the smartphone of its victims, even if the screen is on standby.
Google Play Store: list of 85 Android apps infected by the malware
These advertisements often prevent users from using their phones properly. According to TrendMicro, some ads even block the infected smartphone for more than 5 minutes while the ad video is complete. These tactics allow hackers to quickly generate advertising revenue before being spotted. This was already the technique used by the advertising malware Android spotted by Avast early 2019.
Trend Micro provided a list of the apps that hide the AndroidOS_Hidenad.HRXH malware — including Super Selfie Camera, Cos Camera, Pop Camera and One Stroke Line Puzzle — all of which had a million downloads each.
That’s not all. AndroidOS_Hidenad.HRXH is also a master in the art of concealment. Once installed, the application indeed waits 30 minutes before replacing its icon by a shortcut. This trick prevents the user from easily deleting the application. For that, you have to go through the settings of your Android smartphone.
Rest assured, Google has quickly removed the 85 infected apps from the Google Play Store. To avoid falling into the trap of hackers, TrendMicro recommends first to update your smartphone to Android 9 Pie or Android 8 Oreo if it is possible. The malware only targets devices with a version older than Android Oreo. Android 8.0 and later ask the user to confirm before allowing an application to create a shortcut, say the researchers. We also invite you to install a good free antivirus on your Android smartphone.