A barcode scanner app on Google Play has infected mobiles of over 10 million users across the globe. The Android Barcode Scanner was turned into malware through a software update. The app has recorded over 10 million installs on the Google Play store.
In December 2020, researched learned some users were seeing ads that opened the default browser without user interaction. These unknown ads seemingly came from nowhere, and none of the app users had recently downloaded any new applications. The apps they had installed came from Google Play.Further investigations were carried out and later the ads were traced back to Android Barcode Scanner, anauthentic app that had been on Google Play for several years before it started displaying malicious activity.
Although Google has pulled the Android Barcode Scanner app from the store; however, researchers predict based on a cached Google Play webpage that the malicious update occurred in December itself.Google representatives declined to say if the Defend function did or didn’t take away the malicious barcode scanner
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According to Malwarebytes researchers, to infect the Barcode Scanner, malicious code had been added that wasn’t in earlier versions of the app. Its also reported that it is this new code which used heavy obfuscation to dodge detection. The research team also confirmed that this version of the Android Barcode Scanner was signed by the same digital certificate as previous clean versions, indicating it came from the same app developer (LavaBird LTD).
The majority of free apps on Google Play include some kind of in-app advertising. They do this by including an ad SDK to the code of the app. Usually at the end of the app’s development. Paid-for versions simply do not have this SDK included. Remember, removing an app from Google Play does not necessarily remove it from a device. Thus, unless affected users manually remove the app, it will continue to display ads.
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