Google bans 29 apps from Play Store for spamming users

Google has removed 29 apps from Play Store for allegedly injecting malicious ads to the users’ devices. Most of these were photo editing apps that would disappear from the phone after installation, noted White Ops’ Satori threat intelligence team. While removing the apps from the Android app marketplace will only safeguard the new users, those who have already installed them need to manually uninstall these apps from their devices to prevent any security mishap. The banned apps had more than 3.5 million downloads among them and would bombard users with ads just out of nowhere.

One such app was the Square Photo Blur, which managed to bypass the Play Store security checks. Once installed, the app would disappear from the user home screen and not show an “open” function on the Play Store either. The security researchers found the app not functioning as advertised and instead ran out-of-context (OOC) ads for almost every action the user performed on their devices, including unlocking the handset, uninstalling an app, charging the phone, and even switching from mobile data to Wi-Fi. These ads would occupy the entire screen. Additionally, the Square Photo Blur reportedly launches an OOC web browser randomly.

List of removed apps

Auto Picture Cut
Color Call Flash
Square Photo Blur v2.0.5
Square Photo Blur v7.0
Magic Call Flash
Easy Blur
Image Blur
Auto Photo Blur
Photo Blur
Photo Blur Master
Super Call Screen
Square Blur Master
Square Blur
Square Blur Photo
Smart Photo Blur
Super Call Flash
Smart Call Flash
Blur Photo Editor
Blur Image
Super Blur
Square Image Blur
Super Blur Photo
Super Photo Blur
Photo Blur Editor
Pro Blur Photo
Auto Photo Cut
Smart Call Screen

Click here to know the version numbers of these apps

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