Skip to main content

Google removes 60 apps from Play Store due to reports of malware

play store lockscreen ads
Google has removed 60 games from the Play Store after security firm Checkpoint discovered a bug that displayed ads for porn within the games. Many of the games were aimed at young children.

Checkpoint identified three main ways in which this malware, named Adult Swine, could cause trouble for users. The first is in the nature of the ads themselves. These ads are often pornographic in nature, which many would find inappropriate in any game, let alone those aimed at children. The ads come from the pages of mainstream ad providers that forbid their content from being used in this manner. The second source of ads is the malware’s own ad libraries, which are where the porn ads come from.

Finding ads for porn in children’s games would be bad enough, but there are bigger problems with Adult Swine than that. One such problem is the practice of using deceptive ads in order to trick users. Users will get a pop-up saying that their device has been infected with a virus. Upon clicking the prompt, they will be taken to an app in the Play Store. The apps themselves are not anti-virus software, and may even be harmful in and of themselves.

The final, and perhaps most dangerous feature of Adult Swine, are the premium service pop-ups. Users will be prompted that they will win a free iPhone or other such device if they can answer four questions. After answering those questions, the users will be asked to enter their phone number. Upon doing so, they will be registered and charged for a premium service that they did not want or need.

Adult Swine isn’t particularly new or clever, and most adults will likely see right through it. Young children, on the other hand, may be more trusting and thus unwittingly expose themselves or their parents’ personal information to risk.

Once Checkpoint reported Adult Swine to Google, the company removed the affected games from the Play Store. We recently reported on Google’s efforts to keep the Play Store clear of malware, but despite this, some do still slip through the cracks.

Editors' Recommendations

Eric Brackett
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Google Play Store now offers third-party app payments, but only for some users
The Google Play store icon on an Android phone.

Google will now open up its Play Store as a result of the European Union's Digital Markets Act, the company announced today. Now, any developers distributing apps or games in Europe (the European Economic Area, to be precise) will be able to sidestep the Google Play billing system with no penalty. The change comes after a similar push in South Korea.

"As of today, Google will not remove or reject updates of non-gaming apps from participating developers for offering alternative billing systems for EEA users. Google Play’s billing system will continue to be required for apps and games distributed via Play to users outside the EEA and for games distributed to users within the EEA. We expect to expand billing alternatives to developers of gaming apps for their users in the EEA, in advance of the DMA's effective date," Google's Estelle Werth, director of EU Government Affairs and Public Policy, said in a blog post.

Read more
How Google’s $90M settlement could actually help small developers
Google's Logo

Google has finally reached a settlement for a 2021 class-action antitrust lawsuit, resulting in the company owing $90 million to U.S.-based app developers. The suit alleged that the Google Play Store's 30% cut for all in-app purchases was too high, especially since there aren't great third-party app store options that devs can use to avoid the fees. Although Google decided in 2021 to half its cut of in-app purchases to 15% for the first $1 million made by a developer, it's also offering a potentially big payout for those that were affected.

According to Google, any developers who "earned $2 million or less in annual revenue through Google Play during each year from 2016-2021" are eligible for reimbursement. Developers who meet the criteria for a payout will be contacted by Google. According to Hagens Berman, the law firm responsible for representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, some developers could make as much as $200,000.

Read more
Google backs down, keeping cheaper way to date online intact
A user checks the dating app Tinder on a mobile phone.

Match Group, the maker of popular dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge, scored a victory in its tussle against Google over the Play Store’s taxation policy. The immediate impact for users is that they will continue to have the option of making in-app purchases from an external source and won’t be limited to the Play Store’s own billing system.

Google recently issued a directive that apps listed on its application repository will have to embrace the Play Store billing system. The aforementioned policy ensures that Google gets a 30% cut of all in-app purchases, which include subscriptions to the premium tiers of Match Group’s dating apps. Google had warned that apps that don’t agree to the policy by June won’t be able to push updates and risk being removed from the Play Store.

Read more