The amount we use our apps and the amount of apps we use has shown no signs of slowing. And as the McAfee Labs Threats Report: March 2018 tells us, mobile malware has shown no signs of slowing either. Now, a tricky Android malware dubbbed Andr/HiddnAd-AJ is adding to the plethora of mobile strains out there. The malware managed to sneak onto the Google Play Store disguised as seven different apps – which have collectively been downloaded over 500,000 times.
Slipping onto the Google Play store via six QR reader apps and one smart compass app, the malware manages to sneak past security checks through a combination of unique code and no initial malicious activity. Following installation, Andr/HiddnAd-AJ waits for six hours before it serves up adware. When it does, it floods a user’s screen with full-screen ads, opens ads on web pages, and sends various notifications containing ad-related links, all with the goal of generating click-based revenue for the attackers.
These apps have since been taken down by Google, however, it’s still crucial that Android users are on the lookout for Andr/HiddnAd-AJ malware and other adware schemes like it. Start by following these security tips:
- Do your homework. Before you download an app, make sure you head to the reviews section of an app store first. Be sure to thoroughly sift through the reviews and read through the comments section; Andr/HiddnAd-AJ may have been avoided if a user read one of the comments and saw that the app was full of unnecessary advertisements. When in doubt, don’t download any app that is remotely questionable.
- Limit the amount of apps. Only install apps you think you need and will use regularly. And if you no longer use an app, uninstall it. This will help you save memory and reduce your exposure to threats such as Andr/HiddnAd-AJ.
- Don’t click. This may go without saying, but since this is a click-generated revenue scheme, do whatever you can to avoid clicking pop-ups and unwarranted advertisements. The less you click, the less cybercriminals will profit.
- Use a mobile security solution. As malware and adware campaigns continue to infect mobile applications, make sure your mobile devices are prepared for any threat coming their way. To do just that, cover these devices with a mobile security solution, such as McAfee Mobile Security.