Google has removed more than 60 apps from the Google Play store after security researchers found they were exposing children to hardcore pornography.
The malware, dubbed AdultSwine by security shop Check Point, was found in apps like "Drawing Lessons Lego Star Wars", "Fidget spinner for Minecraft" and "Spinner Toy for Slither", along with a large number of Android games.
In addition to displaying pornographic content, AdultSwine can also show pop ups that state a virus has infected the device, prompting the user to download another app claiming to be able to remove it. Some of the removed games have been downloaded over 1 million times, like Five Nights Survival Craft and McQueen Car Racing Game, based on the Disney Pixar character from the film Cars.
A security system called Google Play Protect is supposed to defend customers using Google's Android operating system from malicious codes by scanning apps for malware.
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Last year, an outcry over disturbing videos aimed at children forced YouTube to terminate the channel ToyFreaks, where a father posted clips of his young daughters screaming in terror, which had gained 8 million followers.
The inappropriate ads being displayed come from two main sources, Check Point said: mainstream ad providers and the malicious code's own ad library (where the porn ads stem from). "We appreciate Check Point's work to help keep users safe", said the spokesperson. Google Play is the only way to download and install applications on Android devices without changing the device's application setting to "allow the installation of non-market applications". If the user clicks through, the malicious code eventually asks him to enter his phone number to receive the "prize", which, of course, is a ploy.
"We advise parents to verify that apps used by their children are categorized as 'Designed for Families" on Google Play'.
In a statement (via Gizmodo), Google confirmed the apps have been removed from the Play Store.