Skip to main content

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

play store lockscreen ads
Image used with permission by copyright holder
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’s Android monopoly finds its biggest challenge, and Apple might be next
Apps screen on the Google Pixel 7.

The Competition Commission of India slapped Google with two hefty fines over anti-competitive strategies that have allowed it to dominate the mobile ecosystem in India. Totaling over $250 million, the penalties reprimand Google for forcing smartphone makers to avoid Android forks, prefer Google’s web search service, and pre-install popular cash cows like YouTube on phones.

Google was also disciplined for forcing its own billing system on developers that allowed the giant to take up to a 30% share of all in-app purchases for applications listed on the app store. Google is not really a stranger to titanic penalties; The EU handed Google a record-breaking fine of approximately $5 billion in 2018 for abusing its dominant market position — a penalty that was upheld in September this year following Google’s appeal.

Read more
Google overhauls its Family Link app for easier parental controls
Google Family Link app.

Google's Family Link app has been a great resource for parents looking to keep an eye on what their children are up to with their devices. Now, it's getting even better thanks to an app overhaul that puts the focus on safety and communication. While the Google Family Link app has previously been praised for its solid parental control settings, the redesign adds plenty of new features that make it easier than ever for parents to monitor smart device usage while keeping children informed about the parental control settings in place.

In addition to a design update that sorts the app into three main tabs (Highlights, Controls, and Location), there's also a laundry list of new features coming to Family Link. Since safety is a huge part of what makes the app appealing, features such as notification alerts when a device arrives at a specific destination (like school or a friend's house) and the ability to see an individual device's battery life are new additions that give parents peace of mind when their kids leave the house.

Read more
Google wants you to know Android apps aren’t just for phones anymore
Person holding Samsung Galaxy smartphone showing Google Play Store.

When most people think of the Google Play Store, the first thing that comes to mind is smartphones. However, the spread of the Android ecosystem is far broader than that, and Google is taking steps to increase awareness of this and make it easier for folks to find apps on the Play Store for their smart TVs, watches, and even cars.

In a blog post today, the Google Play team announced three significant changes that should make it easier for Android fans to discover apps for all their devices, right from their phone. This includes recommendations of apps for non-phone devices, a search filter to focus on only games optimized for non-phone devices, and even a remote install feature that will let you deliver those apps to your Android TV, Wear OS watch, or Android Automotive-equipped car.

Read more