Malware researcher Lukas Stefanko from security firm ESET discovered 13 malicious apps into Google Play that have been already downloaded and installed over half a million times (+560,000).
The malicious apps could allow attackers to install another app and trick the user into giving the permissions necessary for the installation.
App functionality demonstration pic.twitter.com/11HskeD56S
— Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) November 19, 2018
All the malicious apps are posing as games were published by the same developer named Luis O Pinto, at the time they have a low detection rate.
The cybercriminals aim to monetize their efforts pushing unsolicited advertisements to the user when they unlock the device.
Once installed, the malicious apps would remove their icon from the display immediately and downloads other malicious apps in the background.
The applications were all downloaded from a hardcoded address.
In order to trick users into giving permissions to install the downloaded app, the malicious apps attempt to make the user believe that the installation failed and restarted, asking users to approve the action again.
The expert pointed out that the Game Center requests permissions for full network access and to view network and Wi-Fi connections, and to run at startup.
The malicious apps do not implement specific features, they only work as simple downloaders that can bypass Google Play security checks.
Stefanko confirmed that Game Center is no longer available at the link that is hardcoded in the malicious apps, after being informed of the fraudulent applications Google removed them from Google Play.
(Security Affairs – Google Play, malicious apps)