Android is Google’s operating system that is used by billions of people across the globe.
Although there are many ways to download new apps on Android hardware, the main channel to do so is by going through the Google Play Store.
Apps on the marketplace are created by a cacophony of developers from across the globe.
One of these is called DO Global that has created a deluge of software which, combined, have received over 90 million downloads.
However, six popular apps from this developer have been accused of “fraudulently clicking on ads” and asking for a “suspiciously large number of permissions, or permissions deemed potentially ‘dangerous’ by Android”, according to new findings from security firm Check Point and Method Media Intelligence.
BuzzFeed News also did some digging on the matter and was eager to explain the evidence discovered shows the Google Play Store is being “exploited by developers who easily conceal who they are from users, offer apps with invasive permissions, and use these permissions to commit ad fraud”.
The apps said to be at fault for having dangerous permissions and committing ad fraud were:
• Selfie Camera – said to have over 50 million downloads
• Total Cleaner – said to have over 10 million downloads
• Smart Cooler – said to have over 10 million downloads
• RAM Master – said to have over 10 million downloads
• AIO Flashlight – said to have over 1 million downloads
• Omni Cleaner – said to have over 10 million downloads
BuzzFeed News said Check Point found the Selfie Camera app in particular contained “code that causes it to fraudulently click on ads in the app without the user’s knowledge”.
In addition to conducting such behaviour when the app was open, it was also stated “fraudulent clicks” could still take place even when it was closed.
Aviran Hazum, the analysis and response team leader for Check Point, stated these actions could drain the battery life and internet data of those with it installed.
Additionally, a score of advertisements also collect data when a user clicks on them which, if done without permission, would sidestep the rules of the Google Play Store.
BuzzFeed News stated DO Global did not respond to “multiple” requests for comment on the matter.
The outlet did alert Google to the recent findings; in response the American tech giant “blacklisted” the six apps from the developer that were accused of committing app fraud.
Commenting on the subject, a spokesperson for Google said: “We explicitly prohibit ad fraud and service abuse on Google Play.
“Developers are required to disclose the collection of personal data, and only use permissions that are needed to deliver the features within the app.
“If an app violates our policies, we take action that can include banning a developer from being able to publish on Play.”
Although the programmes in question have been removed from the Play Store, it is advisable those who do not want to risk being plagued by the claimed problems delete the apps from their phone if they are installed.
BuzzFeed News was eager to state the issues highlighted are not limited to developer DO Global.
In fact, the publication stated it has identified “other Android apps with a high number of unnecessary permissions” for instance.