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Play Store: Google removed 500 Android apps with 100 million downloads

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 | Gadgets

Google has removed some 500 apps from its Play Store that contain a software development kit (SDK) that can be used to transfer private user data to an advertiser. The apps were downloaded approximately 100 million times. Not all remote apps have the Igexin framework, but they have the option to install it later. Igexin can be used to advertise apps in apps.

According to the security company Lookout, criminals are increasingly using the possibility to download malicious code to bypass Google's controls, such as Google Play Protect. Most app providers probably do not know what functions the SDK provides exactly and what effect it can have on the users, according to Lookout. These include games for children with 50 to 100 million downloads and weather apps with 1 to 5 million downloads. In addition, other apps from the areas of health, fitness and travel were affected.
Routine investigation reveals secret downloads
In a "routine investigation" of the data traffic of an app, the security researchers noticed large, encrypted downloads, after these an Api at the address http: // sdk [.] open [.] phone [.] igexin.com/api.php asked had. Via this path, plugins, which record and transmit private information, such as information about calls made, were apparently reloaded. In principle, other functions could also be reloaded.
However, the post-installed modules can only use the permissions granted to the app itself. Nevertheless, the apps violate the regulations of the Appstores and were therefore removed. Users should carefully check whether they want to grant all the required permissions to an app.

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