A little girl from Prague helped scientific researchers come across seven malicious or scam apps on the Google play store and the Apple app store. These seven apps were adware scams, which refers to the software that bombard your device with unwanted advertisements. These apps had been downloaded over 2.4 million times and earned approx. Rs 3.7 crores for the creators. The apps gave the impression of being wallpaper, music, or entertainment apps.

Apps like these were widely promoted on social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok and targeted children. These apps were successfully managing to stay hidden till one day the little girl came across one profile promoting these apps on Tik Tok and reported it. The girl reported the app to Avast’s Be Safe Online project in the Czech Republic, a project that educates children about online safety.

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“The apps aggressively display ads or charge users between $2-10 USD. The apps either provide a simple game that just causes the device to vibrate, wallpapers, or music. Some of the apps are HiddenAds trojans, a type of trojan Avast reported this summer that disguises itself as a safe and useful application but instead serves intrusive ads outside of the app, and hides the original app icon making it difficult for users to identify where the ads are being served from,” Avast said, quotes by Gadgets Now.

Surprisingly, Tik Tok and Instagram users who have millions of followers were seen promoting these apps. The researchers found several profiles with followers between 5,000 and 3.3 million that had promoted these apps. Moreover, these apps served ads outside the app and the original icon was hidden, making it difficult for users to get rid of it.

One of the threat analysts at Avast praised the girl for her presence of mind and thanked the young girl for reporting the app. He also expressed his concern over such apps being promoted on social media as well as young children falling in prey to them, reported HT.

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The scientific researchers informed the scam apps to Google and Apple. While Google has removed the apps, Apple is yet to respond.

Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

 

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