Malware that displays graphic, adult images has been found in multiple Android apps targeting children.

The new strain, dubbed AdultSwine by researchers, was found in 60 Android apps, many with child-focused names -- such as Spinner Toy for Slither and Drawing Lessons Angry Birds -- by researchers from the cybersecurity firm, Checkpoint. According to Google app store estimates, the infected programs were downloaded between 3.5 and 7 million times.

When run, the malware causes the apps in which it resides to displays popups - some of which include advertisements containing sexual imagery and others containing ads for fake security software and other problematic items. The ads load from both an AdultSwine-specific library of advertisements as well as from legitimate third-party advertisement providers (which, of course, have terms of service that prohibit partners from using their ads in such a fashion). The malware also tries to get victims to click through screens to register for unnecessary services that will cost them a bundle. Screenshots posted online of the malware running show that it can present scam screens in multiple languages - one Hebrew-based bogus contest tells a customer that to claim his/her prize he/she submit his/her phone number; of course, there is no prize, but the submitted phone number will be used to register for unwanted, costly services.

Because the malware works by downloading target links from a malware command-and-control server, it could also be extended to take other harmful actions.

Google has removed the infected apps from the Play Store, but its doing so will not protect any of the millions of people (many of whom are likely children) who have already downloaded the apps; due to the way the Android ecosystem works, Google normally cannot unilaterally delete infected apps that are already installed on devices.

The technology giant did note, however, that it will cause devices on which the poisoned apps are installed to display warnings to users. That said, as anyone who has children likely knows, children often ignore even more serious warnings.

How did this malware situation happen?

In an attempt to prevent the distribution of malware, Google - like several other operators of app stores - scans every program loaded into the Play Store; unfortunately, however, malware is not always simple to detect. There are thousands of new strains created every day, and, sometimes, harmful code cannot be identified as such without dynamically analyzing the behavior of an app within the specific context in which it occurs -- a process that often cannot be effectively done at upload time.

So, what should you do?

1. Make sure that you and your family members have security software running on all of your devices.

2. Check your children's devices for any warnings, or for the presence of any of the infected apps listed below - delete any that you find.

3. Learn about other ways of detecting that a mobile device has been hacked.

App Name Minimum Downloads Maximum Downloads
Five Nights Survival Craft 1,000,000 5,000,000
Mcqueen Car Racing Game 500,000 1,000,000
Addon Pixelmon for MCPE 500,000 1,000,000
CoolCraft PE 100,000 500,000
Exploration Pro WorldCraft 100,000 500,000
Draw Kawaii 100,000 500,000
San Andreas City Craft 100,000 500,000
Subway Banana Run Surf 100,000 500,000
Exploration Lite : Wintercraft 100,000 500,000
Addon GTA for Minecraft PE 100,000 500,000
Addon Sponge Bob for MCPE 100,000 500,000
Drawing Lessons Angry Birds 50,000 100,000
Temple Crash Jungle Bandicoot 50,000 100,000
Drawing Lessons Lego Star Wars 50,000 100,000
Drawing Lessons Chibi 50,000 100,000
Girls Exploration Lite 10,000 50,000
Drawing Lessons Subway Surfers 10,000 50,000
Paw Puppy Run Subway Surf 10,000 50,000
Flash Slither Skin IO 10,000 50,000
Invisible Slither Skin IO 10,000 50,000
Drawing Lessons Lego Ninjago 10,000 50,000
Drawing Lessons Lego Chima 5,000 10,000
Temple Bandicoot Jungle Run 1,000 5,000
Blockcraft 3D 1,000 5,000
Jungle Survival Craft 1.0 1,000 5,000
Easy Draw Octonauts 1,000 5,000
halloweenskinsforminecraft 1,000 5,000
skinsyoutubersmineworld 1,000 5,000
youtubersskins 1,000 5,000
DiadelosMuertos 500 1,000
Draw X-Men 500 1,000
Moviesskinsforminecraft 500 1,000
Virtual Family - Baby Craft 500 1,000
Mine Craft Slither Skin IO 500 1,000
Guide Clash IO 100 500
Invisible Skin for Slither IO app 100 500
Zombie Island Craft Survival 100 500
HalloweenMakeUp 100 500
ThanksgivingDay 100 500
ThanksgivingDay2 100 500
Jurassic Survival Craft Game 100 500
Players Unknown Battle Ground 100 500
Subway Bendy Ink Machine Game 100 500
Shin Hero Boy Adventure Game 100 500
Temple Runner Castle Rush 100 500
Dragon Shell for Super Slither 100 500
Flash Skin for Slither IO app 50 100
AnimePictures 50 100
Pixel Survival - Zombie Apocalypse 50 100
Fire Skin for Slither IO app 10 50
San Andreas Gangster Crime 10 50
fidgetspinnerforminecraft 10 50
Stickman Fighter 2018 10 50
Subway Run Surf 10 50
Guide Vikings Hunters 10 50
Woody Pecker 10 50
Pack of Super Skins for Slither 10 50
Spinner Toy for Slither 10 50
How to Draw Coco and The Land of the Dead 10 50
How to Draw Dangerous Snakes and Lizards Species 1 5
How to Draw Real Monster Trucks and Cars 1 5
How to Draw Animal World of The Nut Job 2 1 5
How to Draw Batman Legends in Lego Style 1 5
Published on: Jan 15, 2018