Google Play has about 40 fewer malicious apps, thanks to a heads-up from the Checkpoint.
The apps all contained “auto-clicking” adware, which use infected gadgets to generate large amounts of fraudulent clicks on ads, according to the security firm.
While we don’t know how many times it was actually activated, the malware might have downloaded more than 18 million times, Checkpoint estimates.
More troubling still, the firm believes that some of the infected apps have lived on Google’s official app store for several years.
Nicknamed “Judy,” the malware was apparently developed by a Korean company named Kiniwini, which also goes by the name ENISTUDIO corp.
Checkpoint also found several apps containing the malware, which were developed by other developers on Google Play. While the connection remains unclear, the firm speculated that one group of developers borrowed code from the other, knowingly or unknowingly.
This, of course, is not the first time that malware has been discovered on Google’s app store, while Android has long lagged behind Apple when it comes to mobile malware protection.
Pointing to fresh internal findings, however, the search giant recently said that Android users are safer than they have ever been.
From 2015 through 2016, installs of potentially harmful apps (PHAs) from Google Play decreased in nearly every category, Google reported.
Year-over-year, trojans dropped by 51.5%, and now represent just 0.016% of all installs; hostile downloaders dropped by 54.6%, and now represent 0.003% of installs; backdoors dropped by 30.5%, and make up 0.003% of installs; while phishing apps dropped by 73.4%, and now consist of 0.0018% of installs.
Meanwhile, by the end of 2016, only 0.05% of devices that downloaded apps exclusively from Play contained a PHA -- down from 0.15% in 2015.