It's not so surprising when reports say there are Malware-infested apps roaming freely around the Play Store. Google's digital marketplace is notoriously unsecure, thanks in large part to it being so massive, meaning the company doesn't always get to filter out unruly ones and duds.
However, when those apps are downloaded by half a million of people, then it's a different situation altogether. Such is this recent report from a security researcher, who just discovered that a hacker group managed to smuggle 13 "games" into the Google Play Store, which have collectively been installed more than 560,000 times.
Google Play Store Infected With Malware Again
The malware, posing as games, pretend to be driving simulators, complete with very convincing screenshots and respectable icons, to boot. However, they fail to even launch once downloaded and proceed to install an APK, which runs, hides itself, then displays ads when the user unlocks their device.
ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko was the first to discover this malicious behavior. Some of the apps, which were all published under the name Luiz O Pinto, were so popular that they even managed to get to the Google Play "Trending" chart despite having no actual functionality. Needless to say this highlights Google's highly lackluster monitoring and supervision of nefarious rule-breakers within its own platform.
At the time of writing, Google has officially removed the apps. Even so, the incident reminds everyone that the company has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to ensuring apps inside its store won't cause any damage. It's also a reminder that an app endorsed by Google Play Store itself doesn't necessarily have a "seal of guarantee" when it comes to safety. As such, users must always stay vigilant, at least until Google finds a better way to deal with scenarios like this.
It's Not Just Google Play
Of course, Google isn't the only company to have had bad actors within its storefront. Both Apple and Microsoft have had similar experiences in the past, which proves no digital store is 100 percent safe when it comes to malware-infested programs.
For its part, Google is aware that it needs to do better on this front. In January, the company disclosed that it had managed to pull more than 700,000 malicious apps from the Play Store just last year. It needs to be far more aggressive, of course, especially when malware-infested apps make it through the trending page undetected.