Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Google Play fails to secure itself from scamming ad-men. Breaching Google’s defenses, many harmful apps are showing up in the Play store, trapping 1.2m victims (often kids), frequently hijacking phones to place fraudulent clicks to adult websites. ESET researcher have found some 343 malicious Android apps uploaded to official Google Play Store since August.
Attackers have the upper hands
Each week, dodging the ad giant’s code-checking defense mechanisms, around 10 malignant apps are being created and uploaded successfully to Alphabet Inc’s Google Play. On an average each app has been downloaded 3600 times.
“In one of the largest malware campaigns on the Google Play Store yet, criminals continue to upload further variants of these malicious apps to the official app store for the Android mobile platform,” says Peter Stancik of welivesecurity.
After installation, criminals generate fake clicks on the ads to generate revenue for their operators, robbing advertisers and harming advertising platforms. Also, the Android malware instances have now changed from basic fraudulent advertising to steal bank credentials and data from existing victim bases.
ESET researcher Lukáš Štefanko notes that the attackers have the upper hands despite the search giant’s efforts to take down the apps. The team also found fault in the ad giant’s ‘verify apps’ security settings in the latest Android, indicating that it only flags malicious apps that have been banned before from the Play Store.
Štefanko after observing that Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)-owned Google has not revealed how its Bouncer app-filtering tool works says that they should probably apply more filters that actually execute the malicious code hidden in the fake app “[and use] clustering [for] similar fake applications.”
A Google-like search engine, but not an Alphabet product
Kiddle, a new search engine, is aiming to be like a Google search for children. The search results are filtered to bring up only the ‘safe sites’ and the sites written in simple language. Kiddle uses a customized Google search to deliver child-friendly results, but is not an official Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) product. Kiddle uses Google colors, but the background is an outer space theme, fit with a friendly robot to attract children.
According to Tech Times, the first three posts to show up on a search will feature safe sites while the next four to seven will be written in a simple language. After the seventh, the sites will be written for adults, but filtered by Google safe search. For example, a search of Kardashians will produce far less raunchy results on Kiddle than it does on a normal search engine.