The “criminal” Android apps that are draining your battery
Researchers from security firm Sophos have found 22 apps that drain your battery life and could land you with a big phone bill.
The “click fraud” apps pretend to be normal apps on the Google Play Store but secretly perform criminal actions out of sight.
The 22 apps have been collectively downloaded over 22 million times.
One app includes an illicit flashlight app that racked up one million downloads – before being taken down from Google’s Play Store.
The apps create invisible ads and trick advertisers into thinking that users are clicking on them.
The ads never actually appear for the user and appear in a hidden browser window instead.
The malware then stimulates a user interacting with the ad, which tricks the ad into thinking the interaction is legitimate.
Despite it sounding like a bad deal for the advertisers who have spent money on the advertisements, it’s also bad news for the users as well.
The researchers explained to news.com.au:
“From the user’s perspective, these apps drain their phone’s battery and may cause data overawes as the apps are constantly running and communicating with servers in the background.”
Normal users without technical knowledge would be hard-pressed to find out whether or not the apps were amiss.
The warning signs would be increased data usage and fast-draining battery life but pinning this on the apps alone would be hard.
User reviews gave nothing away either. Many of the dodgy apps had any negative comments as they didn’t know anything was wrong. This means that many are more likely to download the app in future as many users use app reviews to decide whether an app is worth downloading or not.
“The only affects a user might notice is that the apps would use a significantly greater amount of data, at all times, and consume the phone’s battery power at a more rapid rate than the phone would otherwise require,” researchers explained.
“Because consumers would not be able to correlate these effects to the apps themselves, their Play Market reviews for these apps showed few negative comments.”
The dodgy apps have since been removed from the Google Play Store, but they can still operate if you’ve got them installed.
A list of the apps can be seen below.
- Sparkle FlashLight – com.sparkle.flashlight
- Snake Attack – com.mobilebt.snakefight
- Math Solver – com.mobilebt.mathsolver
- ShapeSorter – com.mobilebt.shapesorter
- Tak A Trip – com.takatrip.android
- Magnifeye – com.magnifeye.android
- Join Up – com.pesrepi.joinup
- Zombie Killer – com.pesrepi.zombiekiller
- Space Rocket – com.pesrepi.spacerocket
- Neon Pong – com.pesrepi.neonpong
- Just Flashlight – app.mobile.justflashlight
- Table Soccer – com.mobile.tablesoccer
- Cliff Diver – com.mobile.cliffdiver
- Box Stack – com.mobile.boxstack
- Jelly Slice – net.kanmobi.jellyslice
- AK Blackjack – com.maragona.akblackjack
- Color Tiles – com.maragona.colortiles
- Animal Match – com.beacon.animalmatch
- Roulette Mania – com.beacon.roulettemania
- HexaFall – com.atry.hexafall
- HexaBlocks – com.atry.hexablocks
- PairZap – com.atry.pairzap