Malicious mobile applications are a plague upon society. This is only further aided by how often such applications are downloaded before they are removed from their respective app stores. Android users had a rough September in this regard. Over 335 million installs of harmful apps were recorded, which is an absolutely shocking number.
Malicious Apps Remain Popular
Cybercriminals who want to score a quick buck have many options at their disposal. One of the most lucrative options is to create a malicious mobile application for Android. A lot of these applications make it through Google’s verification process, for some unknown reason.
In September 2019 alone, 172 harmful applications were found on the Google Play Store. That in itself is an astonishing number, yet it is only part of the story. Those applications combined for nearly 336 million installations worldwide. This goes to show how lucrative this industry really can be.
Primarily the “subscription scam apps” prove to be incredibly popular. Google removed over a dozen harmful offerings with over 20 million installs combined. Those applications were first identified by SophosLabs. All of these apps overcharge users for mobile applications that provide rather limited functionality. Free alternatives are plentiful in the Google Play Store.
Adware and Hidden Ads
Two of the most popular malware app categories are adware and hidden ads. In terms of adware offerings, Google removed several dozens of Android applications from the same developer. The entity responsible for these creations is iHandy, a Chinese mobile developer. Several other adware applications were booted out of the store in September as well.
Numerous Android applications contain hidden advertisements. Some of them are incredibly popular, resulting in over 10 million installations worldwide. Others are less present, although they are still downloaded over 50,000 times. One has to wonder where all of those installations are coming from. Not all of them are genuine but merely intended to make these apps seem more popular.
An Overall Decline
Surprisingly, it seems there were fewer malicious Google Play Store apps compared to August 2019. Additionally, there were nearly 80 million fewer installations. Very impressive numbers, albeit no one should be deceived. There is still a growing problem in the Google Play Store which needs to be addressed. This problem isn’t unique to Android either. The Apple App Store has seen its share of malicious applications over the years.
It also seems criminals are shifting their attention once again. In August, adware and ad fraud were the most common malicious offerings. There was even one fake VPN app, although that didn’t prove to be remotely popular at all. Last month, hidden ads saw a sudden surge in popularity. It is difficult to determine what October and beyond will offer Android users in this regard. One thing seems certain: criminals will keep flooding the Google Play Store with nefarious offerings.