About 60 apps were recently deleted by Google after the company learned that a bug was placing pornographic ads inside the apps. The apps could be found in the Google Play store, and some of them were games geared toward children.
Malicious code named “AdultSwine” was hidden in the affected apps, as Check Point Researchers discovered. The researchers said the code could “wreak havoc” in three possible ways: display web ads that were often inappropriate and pornographic, attempt to trick users into installing fake “security apps,” and try to make users register for some sort of premium services at a cost. The apps were downloaded between 3.5 to 7 million times in total.
The code could even do more damage, as Check Point noted that AdultSwine “also has a potentially much wider range of malicious activities that it can pursue, all relying on the same common concept.”
A Google spokesperson said, “We’ve removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them.”
Check Point has a full list of apps which were affected by the malicious AdultSwine code, including Five Nights Survival Craft and a “Mcqueen Car Racing Game” made to look like a Pixar’s Cars movie game, among many others.
If you’ve downloaded one of the listed apps, you still have to delete the malware from your phone. The apps may have been taken off the Google Play store, but the malware will remain on an infected phone.
Google points out that though the apps were geared toward kids, they wouldn’t be found in its “Designed For Families” section, where the company highlights safe apps which are specifically designed for families and children.
Our advice, especially when dealing with apps meant for children, is to always stick with trusted developers, and avoid anything that looks like a knockoff. Android users should also consider using Google Play Protect, which is designed to scan apps daily for issues.