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Google pulls 85 adware apps downloaded nine million times from Google Play

Google has removed 85 Android apps from Google Play that were found to be a front for running adware on devices they were installed on.

All 85 apps carried the same adware family and were posing as legitimate game, TV, and remote control simulator apps. In total, the 85 apps were downloaded 9 million times from Google Play before researchers at Trend Micro alerted Google to the issue. 

A single app, called Easy Universal TV Remote, was responsible for over half of the nine million downloads, exceeding five million. It may have attracted such a high number of downloads because of its 3.9 out of five star user review rating. However several one star reviews between November 21, 2018 and January 1, 2019 show users were not happy with their experience, according to a Google cache of the app’s Play Store page.  

A review on December states: “I downloaded this app, opened it and tried to setup and it vanished into thin air.” 

Another review on November 21 notes that the app “disappeared from my phone, but appeared to be installed. My guess is it continued to run ads hidden in the background. Pure scam.”