Play Store scam: 8 apps to be deleted immediately

Eight malicious apps were discovered on the Google Play Store that exploited a fraudulent system to deceive advertisers in order to earn money

New security problem within the Google Play Store, the digital store where to download Android applications. This time a team of cybersecurity researchers discovered as many as 8 malicious applications with millions of downloads in total. In short, the audience of potentially affected users is very wide.

The applications that have ended up under accusation are eight applications from two Chinese software houses: Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech. Unlike what happened in the past, the indicted apps were not designed to steal users' data and personal information, but to exploit the computing capabilities of the devices on which they were installed. Specifically, the apps were considered as dangerous because they were used to engineer a scam against several advertisers around the Android world and allowing developers to earn several million dollars illegally. The 8 incriminated apps are: Clean Master, Security Master, CM Launcher 3D, Battery Doctor, Cheetah Keyboard, CM Locker, CM File Manager and Kika Keyboard. All of them have several thousand downloads, so much so that they exceed one million total installations.

New scam apps on Google Play Store

The scam, for once, did not directly affect users but advertisers. Basically, the apps exploited the fact that companies paid an extra fee whenever one of the apps with their fixed banner inside was downloaded by a user. Chinese developers devised an illegal system to generate fake banner clicks and make advertisers believe that users had viewed their ads to download the app. In reality, the ads were not viewed by real users but only by a fraudulent automated system created by Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech.

The problem, however, even if to a small extent, also affects users who have downloaded one or more of the offending apps. In order for the fraudulent system to work properly for advertisers, in fact, the apps, even once installed, continued to run, even if blocked, in the background.

For now, both Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech have rejected the accusations, but Google is investigating the incident to see whether or not to delete the 8 apps under investigation and punish the Chinese developers.