Size often comes with a price.
For Google and its Play Store, size has often meant sacrificing the security that Apple’s App Store has long enjoyed.
Illustrating this issue, researchers just uncovered adware installed in its Play apps, which left more than 440 million devices virtually useless.
In all, mobile security firm Lookout said it discovered 238 separate apps carrying the ad plugin known as BeiTa. All of the apps just happened to be produced by mobile firm CooTek.
Founded in 2008, Shanghai-based CooTek was listed on the New York Stock Exchange last September. The firm is best known for mobile keyboard app TouchPal.
To the chagrin of unsuspecting users, the plugin in question forcibly displayed ads on their phones’ lock screen, triggers video and audio ads even while the phone is asleep. It even displays out-of-app ads that interfere with interactions with other apps on their device.
Users have reported being unable to answer calls or interact with other apps, due to what Lookout researchers consider to be the “persistent and pervasive nature” of the ads displayed.
Rather than immediately bombarding users upon installing the infected apps, ads only become visible at least 24 hours after the apps are launched.
“The persistence of the advertisements in this particular family and the lengths to which the developer went to hide its existence make BeiTaPlugin concerning,” Lookout’s researchers note in the new report.Google has made efforts to curb such activity, but these findings show the tech titan still has a long way to go.