Google Play Store, removed two more dangerous apps: what are they

Symantec discovered two apps that were creating smartphone problems and showing malicious ads. They were promptly removed

Another developer and two more apps have been deleted from the Google Play Store: this time it's a fitness app and a note-taking app, both developed by Idea Master. They were kicked out of Google's store because they were using the user's smartphone to scam advertisers.

The well-known cybersecurity company Symantec discovered this, and warned Google. Then Google, last week, proceeded to remove the apps that were called, respectively, "Idea Note: OCR Text Scanner, GTD, Color Notes" and "Beauty Fitness: daily workout, best HIIT coach." Overall, the two apps had been downloaded and installed by over 1.5 million people. This is yet another case, in a very short time, of dangerous apps that pass the controls of the Google Play Store and are published, only to be removed after a report. This is not good for Google's image and further fuels the controversy about the safety of apps that can be downloaded from the Play Store.

How the two removed apps worked

Both apps were really working: they did what they promised. But they also did something else: without the user's knowledge, they opened banner ads in the background and clicked on them by themselves. The user's smartphone was then used to cheat advertisers who, as is well known, pay for every click. This is known as "Ad Fraud". However, this fraud took place in the background and the user had no way to notice it. This is one of the reasons why the apps remained on Google's store for so long, before being removed by Symantec.

In addition to ad fraud, the two apps also caused problems for the smartphone: slowdowns and battery drainage, i.e. the battery drained faster than usual.

Google Play Store has a problem

It was only in August that it became known that Google had to remove dozens of apps from its store. Among them, there were 27 that even made people download a fake version of the Play Store. Another one, CamScanner, was so popular that it had over 100 million installations. Then two apps were discovered that contained AhMyth, an open source virus that has been known for years. This is despite the fact that Google has an internal app control procedure in place to skim dangerous apps from the Play Store. A procedure that, it seems, is not flawless and still needs to be refined quite a bit.