Security researchers have found a new type of Android malware that has found its way into thousands of applications.
It poses as an app for legitimate titles such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others. The adware is almost impossible to remove, forcing the user to replace their device.
Lookout Security, a mobile security firm, discovered the new so-called “trojanized adware,” which puts a new twist on how cybercriminals are generating money.
By taking legitimate apps from the Google Play store, malicious actors will repackage the app with baked-in adware, and serve it to a third-party app store. In many cases, the apps are still fully functional and doesn’t alert the device owner.
It works like this: the user installs an app from a third-party store, and the app auto-roots gaining access to the entire phone’s system — an act alone that punches a hole in Android’s security, opening up more ways for hackers to launch their attacks. Periodically from there, the app will serve ads, which generates money for the attacker.
“Because these pieces of adware root the device and install themselves as system applications, they become nearly impossible to remove, usually forcing victims to replace their device in order to regain normalcy,” said the company in a blog post.
The good news is that the company said there is no indication that users who install apps from Google Play, Android’s official app store, are affected.
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