The presence of malicious applications in the Play Store continues to be a problem, which luckily affects fewer and fewer users in Spain. Although from time to time they continue to be discovered apps that don’t comply with store rules. This is the case now with three apps that Google has removed, which were intended for children, accumulating millions of downloads.
Between these three applications they accumulated more than 20 million downloads in the Play Store. A group of security researchers alerted Google that these apps were collecting user data, they could even track users. Fortunately, all three have already been eliminated.
The best way to detect malicious apps on AndroidMalicious applications are a real problem on Android, although there are ways to detect them on the phone and be able to better protect ourselves against them.
Google removes apps that were tracking users
The apps in question were Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay, all of which are available on the Play Store. These three apps had versions of three SDKs that could be used to collect information from users, in a way that violated the rules of the Google application store. These versions of the SDKs were Unity, Appodeal, and Umeng.
All three applications had the ability to bind Android unique identifier (called Android ID) to the advertising identifier (Android AAID), which is the one used for advertising profiles and that can be reset when the advertising preferences are removed on the phone. This was possible when using certain versions of Unity, Umeng and Appodeal that were integrated into those apps.
Link the unique identifier with the advertising one is something that violates the rules of the Google Play Store, as this is something that allows an advertiser to bypass the control mechanisms in the store. Even if the user resets these advertising preferences, it is useless, because the advertiser already knows which Android identifier that other advertising identifier is linked to.
Google has removed all three apps from the Play Store already, although Number Coloring is back in the store. This usually means that the app developer has made the changes required by the Play Store, so it works again and there are no risks this time to download the app on the phone.
The entry Google removes three apps for children from the Play Store for breaking the rules appears first in The Free Android.