Chinese Apps Banned from Play Store for Ad Fraud
If you have a smartphone, you most likely download your apps through Google Play Store. It makes sense too, as it’s Google’s own app store with security checks in place to keep you safe from fake/malicious apps.
However, some of the malicious apps still manage to get through and might cause problems for you.
Recently, Buzzfeed tested more than 5000 applications on Google Play Store for ad fraud and published a long article on it. They found that many popular apps like selfie camera apps are involved in ad fraud.
DU group, Chinese tech giant Baidu’s subsidiary that eventually became a separate entity, was found deeply involved in this fraud. About six applications from the company named Smart Cooler, Total Cleaner, Omni Cleaner, RAM Master and AIO Flashlight were found using the algorithm.
How Do They Work?
These applications are abusing permissions and committing ad frauds using ads served by AdMob from Google and MoPub by Twitter.
These applications have been known to hide video ads behind legit advertisement banners and they work in the background even if they are not activated by the user. Ads are clicked automatically without user’s permission in the background, draining the battery and also consuming data.
We don’t know if any user data was being harvested but it is a possibility since the user’s IP address and personal information is very much accessible by these applications.
Google has pulled all applications by DU group from the Play Store, but this is not a permanent solution. They need to address the problem and find a solution that will prevent uploading of such applications in the future.
A senior analyst from Arete apps, Richard Kramer said,
Ad fraud is simply the norm in China (and for many other apps), and… Google should be doing far more to prevent it, even if it would materially reduce sales. They cannot claim ignorance of, or deny the problem.