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Google Breaks Up Biggest Ad Fraud on Play Store

Google just got rid of one of the biggest ad frauds that ever plagued the Google Play store. What can you do to protect yourself from Play store ad fraud?

Ad fraud on the Google Play store has become a significant issue, as evidenced by the recent Judy malware that spread by downloading infected gaming apps. Hackers are coming up with trickier ways to download malware onto your phone these days. In order to avoid downloading apps with adware, make sure to regularly run the Full Virus Scan feature to keep your system secure. Click here to check your SD card and phone files for any hidden malware:  

Ad fraud often refers to the practice of earning extra money online through fake “bots” that “like” or click banners to give them more hits. In the Judy malware instance, malicious code secretly opened web pages in the background of users’ phones in order to click on ads without the user’s permission. This is a type of illegal program called “adware.” While this particular ad fraud attack has recently been discovered, the Google Play store’s battle with adware is far from over. The following will tell you why the sophistication of the most recent Google Play store ad fraud attack has the company so nervous.

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Why is This Attack Significant?

The most recent ad fraud attack was the largest ever reported, with 41 apps illegally downloading adware onto users’ phones. The apps had been downloaded nearly 36 million times, making this ad fraud attack the most successful malware attack in terms of installs ever recorded.

How Did This Ad Fraud Attack Work?

Once users downloaded the apps — most of which were games — the app would open web pages in the background of the app. Then, like bots, the program would click banners and Google ads from users’ phones. Why? The Korean software company that created the adware profited off of every click, likely raking in about $300,000 per month.

Why Didn’t Google Catch on to the Attack Sooner?

Since the adware was downloaded onto users’ systems only after the legal download of the app, Google’s Bouncer technology could not detect it. Like other types of adware, this hidden download after the legitimate download of the software makes it all the more difficult for the Google Play store to discover it.

As ad fraud attacks become more and more complex, be wary about the apps you’re choosing to download onto your phone. If you’re diligent about downloading and regularly running a Full Virus Scan, including scheduled scans, you’re more likely to be protected from ad fraud attacks, even as they get more and more refined.