Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Pornographic malware found in Android apps for kids

Pornographic malware found in Android apps for kids

Raising the bar for the "Enhanced for Android Wear" badge is not only good for consumers, since it makes it easier to find higher quality apps for Android Wear, it also helps developers by making their apps eligible to be listed on the top charts for Android Wear, as well as giving them a chance to be featured in Google's curated collections on the Play Store.

Following an investigation by security firm Check Point, Google has deleted 60 games from the Play Store that were infected with a malicious bug, which among other things injected pornographic ads into games targeted at children.

Malicious code named "AdultSwine" was hidden in the affected apps, as Check Point Researchers discovered.

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Dubbed "AdultSwine", the malware hides inside game apps that Google Play data says have been downloaded 3 to 7 million times, Check Point said in blog post on Friday. The most popular include Five Nights Survival Craft, Mcqueen Car Racing Game, Addon Pixelmon for MCPE, CoolCraft PE, and Exploration Pro WorldCraft.

A security system called Google Play Protect is supposed to defend customers using Google's Android operating system from malicious codes by scanning apps for malware.

Although Google actively scans the Play store for malicious code, policing its vast, ever-evolving catalog of apps is a challenge.

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One father complained to Google that the software had exposed his four-year-old son to "a bunch of thilthy (sic) hardcore porn pictures". All of these are displayed to children on a rotating basis while they play the infected games.

The inappropriate ads being displayed come from two main sources, Check Point said: mainstream ad providers and the malicious code's own ad library (where the porn ads stem from). In a statement provided to ABC7 News, Google also says that "AdultSwine" did not exploit an Android security vulnerability and that users' devices were not compromised. "We've removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers' accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them". In December, YouTube said that Google was planning to increase the number of staff reviewing videos to more than 10,000. The phone number would be used to register for premium services.

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