The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) has flagged ‘HiddenAds’, a new malware which has infiltrated Google Play Store and can affect device performance or jeopardise users’ privacy.
NCC-CSIRT described the virus, first identified by the McAfee Mobile Research Team, as high in damage potential on Tuesday.
The CSIRT is the telecom sector’s cyber security centre set up by the NCC to focus on incidents in the telecom sector and how they might affect telecom consumers and citizens.
In a statement signed by Reuben Muoka, its director of public affairs, the NCC commission said that the malware infiltrates Google Play Store in the form of device cleaners or optimisation apps.
“Upon installation, it can run malicious services without the user opening the app. It also spams the user with irrelevant advertisements. The apps have received downloads ranging from 100,000 to over a million,” the statement read in part.
‘“Some of the apps HiddenAds masquerades as are: Junk Cleaner, EasyCleaner, Power Doctor, Carpet Clean, Super Clean, Meteor Clean, Strong Clean, Windy Clean, Fingertip Cleaner, Keep Clean, Full Clean – Clean Cache, Quick Cleaner, and Cool Clean.
“When a user installs any of the aforementioned apps, whether the user has opened the app or not, a malicious service is immediately installed on the device. The app will then attempt to blend into the app tray by changing its icon to the Google Play icon that every Android user is familiar with. Its name will also change to ‘Google Play’ or ‘Setting’. The device will then be bombarded with ads in a variety of deceptive ways, severely impairing the user experience.”
According to NCC-CSIRT, Android users who install the compromised app will experience their device performance suffering significantly. Clicking on the ads may cause stealth downloads of new malware. Users may subscribe to services and be billed on a monthly basis without their consent. By extension, the malware jeopardises the privacy of such users.
The legitimate Google Play app cannot be uninstalled, but counterfeits can be deleted on Android devices.
The NCC advisory recommended the installation of anti-virus or anti-malware software with a proven track record of detecting and removing malware.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.