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Google Finds Malware Showing Pornographic Ads In 60 Kids’ Apps

At CES, LG introduces new smart home products with artificial intelligence
Check Point security firm has found new malware that displays pornographic content on user’s smartphones. The malware has targeted a handful of Android apps all geared toward kids.  ( Mandel Ngan | AFP/Getty Images )

Google has deleted 60 apps geared toward kids on the Google Play Store after security firm Check Point found malware that displayed pornographic content.

The malware went further and would trick users into installing fake “security apps” or have the users sign up for a secure and premium SMS service. The security firm estimated that the Google Play Store found 60 games, such as Drawing Lessons Angry Birds, Temple Crash Jungle Bandicoot, and more that had at least 3 million to 7 million downloads.

The malware has been labeled “AdultSwine,” and soon after Check Point alerted Google, the apps disappeared from the store.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the apps named by the security firm were removed, and the developers’ accounts were disabled. They further went on to thank Check Point for their work in keeping their apps safe.

The malware acted in a sophisticated manner, leading users to believe the pornographic images were Google ads, although they were not. Google has maintained that it keeps tight control on ads catered to families and kids.

What Does AdultSwine Do?

The malware is said to have shown highly inappropriate images while also attempting to trick users into installing a fake security app dubbed “scareware” on their device. After the fake advertisements were seen, users would be greeted with a “Remove Virus Now” notification designed to lead a user to download the fake security app.

There are some instances where the malware would prompt users to register for a premium SMS service. The service would tempt users to sign up by offering free gifts such as iPhone X or iPads.

The security firm also said that the malware was able to get access to users’ login credentials. Those credentials could be transferred back to a server and used by malicious hackers.

A complete list of the affected apps is available in Check Point’s report.

Will More Malware Arrive?

While Google is actively scanning the Play Store for malicious coding and malware, there are challenges with keeping that coding out of the app store.

The company has said that it does struggle with malware being entered into the app store from outside apps because some coding can only be detected by dynamically analyzing the context of an app’s actions.

Google was able to stop this malware before it reached more apps, but this definitely won’t stop it from happening again.

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