Category Archives: Google Play

More Android apps from dangerous Ztorg family sneak into Google Play

Enlarge (credit: Kaspersky Lab)

For the second time this month, Google has removed Android apps from its Google Play marketplace. Google did so after a security researcher found the apps contained code that laid the groundwork for attackers to take administrative "root" control of infected devices.

"Magic Browser," as one app was called, was uploaded to Google's official Android App bazaar on May 15 and gained more than 50,000 downloads by the time it was removed, Kaspersky Lab Senior Research Analyst Roman Unuchek said in a blog post published Tuesday. Magic Browser was disguised as a knock-off to the Chrome browser. The other app, "Noise Detector," purported to measure the decibel level of sounds, and it had been downloaded more than 10,000 times. Both apps belong to a family of Android malware known as Ztorg, which has managed to sneak past Google's automated malware checks almost 100 times since last September.

Most Ztorg apps are notable for their ability to use well-known exploits to root infected phones. This status allows the apps to have finer-grain control and makes them harder to be removed. Ztorg apps are also concerning for their large number of downloads. A Ztorg app known as Privacy Lock, for instance, received one million installations before Google removed it last month, while an infected Pokémon Go guide racked up 500,000 downloads before its removal in September.

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Google Play is fighting an uphill battle against Android adware

Enlarge (credit: SophosLabs)

Google's official Play marketplace is waging an uphill battle against Android apps that display an unending stream of popup ads even when users try to force them to stop, researchers said Friday.

The researchers, from UK-based SophosLabs, said they have found a total of 47 apps in the past week that collectively have racked up as many as six million downloads. They all use a third-party library that bombards users with ads that continue to display even after users force close the app or scrub memory. In a blog post, SophosLabs said Google has removed some of the privately reported apps while allowing others to remain.

The MarsDae library that's spawning the popup torrent supports Android versions 2.3 through 6, as well as Samsung, Huawei, Mizu, Mi, and Nexus devices. One app that incorporates MarsDae, SophosLabs said, is Snap Pic Collage Color Splash, which remained available on Google servers as this post was being prepared. Snap Pic has been downloaded from 50,000 to 100,000 times. Once installed, it displays ads on the Android home screen. Even after a user uses the Android settings to force close the app, the ads resume a few seconds later.

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Google Play introduces ‘Android Excellence’ collections that showcase editorially selected top apps and games

 At WWDC this month, Apple introduced an entirely revamped App Store that puts a much greater focus on editorial, with plans for stories about the apps, how to’s, interviews, and more, in addition to regular postings of curated lists and “app of the day” type features. Today, Google announced its own plans to expand editorial involvement on Google Play, with the launch of its… Read More

App developers can now advertise on the Google Play homepage and app listing pages

 Google announced today a change to its Google Play platform that will allow app makers to now place ads on the Google Play home page and app listing pages. These ads are an expansion of Google’s previously announced “Universal Ad Campaigns,” which are designed to simplify the process of advertising across Google’s online properties – including the Google Play… Read More

Amazon’s “actually free” app store didn’t actually last for two years

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Amazon Underground, the company's experiment in "actually free" smartphone apps and games, will soon go even more underground. As in, dead and buried.

A developer blog confirmed the news on Friday, saying that the program will stop accepting new software on May 31 and that its download service will be fully shuttered in "summer 2017."

The Underground app store launched just shy of two years ago with a weird sales pitch to developers: let us give your downloads away, and we'll pay you a penny for every five minutes someone uses your app. The idea is that Underground versions of games and apps would not only be free to download but also have all in-app purchases removed—which might mean that players get hooked and rack up enough hours to get developers paid by Amazon's weird system.

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App stores saw record revenue and downloads in Q1 2017

 Mobile applications saw a record number of downloads and revenue in the first quarter of the year, according to a new report from app store analytics firm App Annie out this morning. Across both iOS and Android, downloads grew by 15 percent year-over-year to reach nearly 25 billion worldwide – a figure that includes only new downloads, and not re-installs or downloads from prior quarters.… Read More