The Android Antivirus App You're Using Maybe a Fraud

Starting in Android Q users have a new option to give an app access to location only when the app is being used in other words when the app is in the foreground

Google notes that only the Play Store on Android and Chrome OS will show these changes - mostly just applying a corner radius 20% of the icon size to maintain consistency - whereas Wear OS, Android TV, and Android Auto will not be impacted.

"The main goal of these apps seems to be generating easy revenue for their developers, rather than protecting their users".

Android adware found its way into as many as 150 million devices - after it was stashed inside a large number of those freakish viral mundane job simulation games, we're told. It isn't clear why, but AV-Comparatives said the apps were likely developed by amateurs or non-security vendors that were more focused on making money through ads. Apps in the personalization and utility categories such as Volumen Booster, My name on Live Wallpaper, Deleted Photo Recovery, Secret screen recorder, Phone Finder, or Face Beauty Makeup were downloaded at least 500,000 times and upwards of a million times.

It advised that if you want to make sure you are protecting your Android device adequately, stick to apps from well-known antivirus companies. All of the apps have now been removed after Google was notified about the same. That means a modelling app could be used to create 3D images or support AR photography.

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According to the company, while location data can be imperative to giving users recommendations based on where they are, it is also a very sensitive type of personal user information.

Only 23 of these apps detected 100% of the malware strains tested. The researchers simply installed each antivirus app on a separate device and automated the device to open a browser, download a malicious app, and then install it. In all, there were more than 150m installs for the apps, with the "Snow Heavy Excavator Simulator" application getting more than 10m installs.

AV Comparatives says a handful of apps it tested have now been flagged by other security software as Trojans or "potentially unwanted applications", a category reserved for apps that may have some legitimate functionality but also sport other, questionable features, such as bombarding users with ads. Users will not see changes on apps listed in Google Play Store on other form factors including Android TV, Wear OS and Android Auto. The test was extensive, covering the 2,000 most common Android malware variants from the past year. Instead of masking malware as an anti-virus product, the questionable products did actually have anti-malware functions but at a much less effective level than the best AV products.

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