SophosLabs recently found 22 Android mobile apps which had posed as Apple devices to advertisers in a wider ad-fraud scam. The Google Play apps had been downloaded more than two billion times by the time they were discovered.
The malware and security company not only found that the apps were linked to cases of click-fraud, but importantly that the click-fraud was being attributed to Apple devices when it was coming from Android devices instead.
It has previously been shown that Apple audiences tend to be more expensive for advertisers to reach.
Not all of the apps were designed for malicious activity. Instead, three had been hijacked with a Trojan click-fraud code.
Google has since removed the apps from its Play Market. However, the active apps could still be delivering revenue.
In a blog post, SophosLabs called the new malware functionalities which formed the basis of these apps more “persistent, more flexible, and more deceptive than earlier generations.”
For the end user, there is little way of knowing whether an app containing such sophisticated technology may be fraudulent other than increased data and battery consumption.