Android adware on the rise this year

Avast’s cybersecurity researchers are warning against adware and have also noticed an increase in fake apps and banking Trojans. […]

In the first five months of 2021, 45 percent of mobile threats were adware. (c) Unsplash

According to Avast, adware continues to be the biggest threat on Android smartphones and tablets: in the first five months of 2021, 45 percent of mobile threats were adware. In second place were fake apps with 16 percent, followed by banking Trojans with 10 percent. Other types of malware include downloaders, spy software, and mobile ransomware called “locker”.

Adware displays advertisements to users and induces them to download the adware by posing as a legitimate application. A recent example of this is the HiddenAds family, which Avast last reported on in October. In their investigations, Avast security experts were able to identify two main types of adware:

The “traditional” type: these are games, photo and other lifestyle applications that are attractively designed to entice the user to download. Subsequently, however, this is filled with advertising in and outside the app.

The so-called ad scam: This adware starts malicious activities in the background after downloading. For example, it shows out-of-context ads, ads in notifications, or uses other aggressive advertising techniques.

Some adware also displays ads with malicious content. In the case of advertising fraud, for example, an encrypted file can be automatically downloaded together with the app and then trigger clicks on ads or subscribe to premium services without the user’s knowledge-which can end up being expensive for the user. Therefore, protection against adware is especially important.

Fake apps and banking Trojans affect the mobile user experience

In addition to adware, fake apps are the second most common mobile threat, according to the study by Avast. These are apps that pretend to be something they are not. Sometimes disguised as legitimate apps, such as a Covid-19 tracking app or an AdBlocker. Among other things, fake apps may contain functions that spy on the user, show him unwanted advertisements or expose him to malicious activities.

Banking Trojans or” bankers ” operate in secret to gain the trust of users and steal their data. They disguise themselves as apps that lie on the smartphone and wait until the user starts his banking app. Then the Trojan activates a fake login screen and places it over the login screen of the real app to then steal the data that the user enters there.

“Especially since the beginning of the pandemic, our smartphones and mobile devices have been our daily companions. That’s why it’s a real nuisance or even serious security risk when a phone and the data stored on it is exposed to mobile malware,“ says Ondrej David, mobile threat analyst at Avast. “Mobile malware, especially adware, often comes in the form of a gaming or entertainment app that seems harmless at first glance. But what users don’t know is that their device is performing malicious activities in the background.“

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