Malicious apps on iOS and Android clock 2.4 million downloads, $500,000 in revenue

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What you need to know

  • Researchers have discovered several malicious apps lurking on iOS and Android.
  • The apps were downloaded more than 2.4 million times, netting more than $500,000 in revenue.
  • A young girl reported a TikTok profile promoting an abusive app, leading to the discovery.

Researchers have discovered malicious apps on iOS and Android that bombarded users with ads and hid their icons to prevent users from uninstalling them after they were tipped off by a child in the Czech Republic.

As reported by ArsTechnica, apps with "aggressive adware and exorbitant prices" were found on both iOS and Android after a young girl reported a TikTok profile promoting them:

The apps came to light after a girl found a profile on TikTok that was promoting what appeared to be an abusive app and reported it to Be Safe Online, a project in the Czech Republic that educates children about online safety. Acting on the tip, researchers from security firm Avast found 11 apps, for devices running both iOS and Android, that were engaged in similar scams.

According to the report, 11 apps posed as entertainment apps, wallpaper apps, or music downloads, and served intrusive ads on users even when they weren't open. They are also said to have hidden their icons to make it harder for users to uninstall them. The report says that the apps were downloaded a total of 2.4 million times, and generated revenue of half-a-million dollars.

Google says that it has removed the apps from its store, however, at the time of publication, the apps were still available on the iOS App Store. Threat analyst Jakub Vávra from Avast stated:

"We thank the young girl who reported the TikTok profile to us. Her awareness and responsible action is the kind of commitment we should all show to make the cyberworld a safer place."

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9