SOURCE: Anura

Anura

October 18, 2017 09:00 ET

Fraudulent Zombie Apps Return to Google Play Store

Failsafes thwarted by three Google App Developers

MIDDLETOWN, DE--(Marketwired - Oct 18, 2017) - Anura, the next generation fraud protection software from eZanga that identifies bots, malware, and human fraud, today announced a re-emergence of fraudulent live wallpaper apps in the Google Play Store. Since Aug. 28, 2017, three developers, all with Gmail accounts, have uploaded 43 zombie apps, which may have been downloaded more than 1.1 million times.

Anura discovered that new fraudulent wallpaper apps are manipulating a zero-click model, where a phone doesn't have to actually be touched to generate a click, but have altered the script slightly enough to slip past Google Play Protect and other traffic detectors.

"Like a stolen red car painted black to avoid detection, these apps are barely changed from what we found only a few months ago," said Joe Rodichok, Director of Engineering and Technology at eZanga. "These fraudsters are simply altering one part of their code in order to make it undetectable to Google."

Consumers are exposed to these apps because fraud farms increase the number of downloads and thus exposure in the Google Play Store. Several of these apps are even geared toward children, like "Cute White Kitten Live Wallpaper" or "Cute Fluffy Rabbit Live Wallpaper" and are rated "E for everyone."

This issue continues to surface in the Google Play Store, but does not impact the Apple App Store. Apple reviews developers and tests apps before publishing for download, whereas the Google Play Store model allows for developers across the world to freely publish apps that can only be identified as fraudulent and removed retroactively.

"Google is the 'Wild Wild West' of mobile, where, in the past, developers could create as they pleased, with limited restrictions," said Rich Kahn, CEO and co-founder of eZanga. "In less than eight weeks, we've seen fraudsters bypass Google's failsafes, reinforcing that Google isn't immune to fraud and still needs to address how it's proactively fighting fraud."

The newly infected apps are similar to those that were found in Anura's first LiveFraudPaper report released in July, which revealed that apps in the Google Play store contain code that activates Android phones in "sleep mode," for the purpose of engaging with mobile advertisements without the phone user knowing.

To view the app fraud findings and full white paper, please visit here.

About Anura
Anura, a division of the full-service digital marketing firm eZanga, is the next generation technology to combat fraudulent users. Built and optimized based on more than a decade of client input, campaign data and analyzed clicks, Anura delves into campaigns from the advertiser's perspective. The technology identifies real human visitors as opposed to simulated activity, and, in return, increases accuracy and conversion rates. For more information, please visit https://www.anura.io.

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