Photo Credit: Wandera
Two malicious apps serving adware have now been removed from Google Play, as per a security research firm. These apps saw over 1.5 downloads in their lifespan, combined. The two apps are called Sun Pro Beauty Camera and Funny Sweet Beauty Selfie Camera. The security firm said these apps ask for a whole set of permissions, including the ability to record audio without user confirmation, and served intrusive adware that earned money for developers in an unethical manner. Both these apps have now been delisted from the Google Play Store.
Researchers at Wandera were the first to spot these two malicious apps. Sun Pro Beauty Camera app was listed on Google Play since 2017 and had amassed over 1 million downloads over the course of its lifespan. Funny Sweet Beauty Selfie Camera, on the other hand, was listed on Google Play earlier this year and had managed to gather 500,000 downloads. ZDNet was the first to report about the delisting.
The apps are both selfie filter camera apps with similar functionality, and Wandera says they both served intrusive ads. Adware is usually a big nuisance for the end user as it drains battery and eats up data, apart from interrupting users in the middle of their browsing/ workflow/ texting/ or other work, killing productivity. The two apps, once installed, would be visible in the app drawer, but quickly disappear once opened. The apps created shortcuts on the home screen, and then remove themselves from the app drawer. The researchers say that even after uninstalling the shortcut, the apps stay active and can be seen running in the background.
As for ad behaviour, the SunPro Beauty Camera showed ads even if the app is never opened and even after restarting the device. Full-screen ads would start to pop up that are difficult to close. Funny Sweet Beauty Camera starts showing full-screen ads outside of the app only when a filtered photo is downloaded via the app, locally on the device. Both the apps ask for questionable permissions like record audio without consent, and enabling system alert window that can allow the app to overlay some information and trick the user into clicking something he did not want to.
In any case, both these apps have been removed from Google Play Store, as mentioned earlier. If you happen to have installed these two apps, we recommend uninstalling them right away, even if you have to do a factory reset. If you would've looked at the app reviews when the listings were live, they were filled with negative reviews and one star rating, with hordes of complaints about the irritating ads. So, a best practice before installing any app would be to check its review section and ratings. Finally, do not blindly give permissions to any app, without thorough review of what may be compromised.