Google keeps eliminating apps from the Play Store that do not adhere to the guidelines. Some of these apps were removed due to orders by the Indian Government while others were banned worldwide as they failed to meet Google’s directives. The tech goliath has now removed 29 more apps consisting of adware that was identified by White Ops’ Satori threat intelligence team as a part of their “CHARTREUSEBLUR” investigation.
These apps were able to circumvent detection as they were spotted running out-of-context (OOC) ads. They would also disappear after being installed making it tricky for users to uninstall them. However, these apps could be removed directly from the App Settings menu. Most of the adware filled apps discovered were photo editing tools providing free blur feature to its users. After being installed, some of them even triggered pop-up ads by simple actions by the users such as unlocking the screen, charging the phone, switching off WiFi and so on.
Many of the apps had more than 5,00,000 downloads at Play Store which indicates that these apps have affected a lot of phones globally. There might still be unidentified apps at Play Store which means some users could still have them on their phone. To counter this, the Satori team advises users to read reviews before downloading the app. Special emphasis should be laid by the user to check if people are complaining about undesired pop-up ads or the disappearance of the app after downloading.
Some of the apps were Auto Picture Cut, Color Call Flash, Square Photo Blur, Square Blur Photo, Magic Call Flash, Easy Blur, Image Blur, Auto Photo Blur, Photo Blur, Photo Blur Master, Super Call Screen, Square Blur, Square Blur Master, Smart Blur Photo, Smart Photo Blur, Super Call Flash, Smart Call Flash, Blur Photo Editor and Blur Image. The remainder apps are modifications of these apps with similar names. To check the complete list click here.