Using mobile devices is increasing with time as they’ve become powerful productivity machines. However, convenience comes with a price, and mobile users are paying it with their information.
Despite becoming an essential factor in our daily life, mobile devices have also major security risks if they’re not managed properly.
Even the biggest companies in the world might slip, causing devastating effects to their customers, even if it’s not intentional.
One of these companies would be Google, as it has allowed applications to trick its customer into thinking they’ll be getting free products.
However, in this particular incident, what’s free costs a lot, especially when it’s inserting malware in the customers’ devices.
It’s called Terracotta, an ad fraud botnet that promises free goods, to perform the bad. What is happening on Google Play Store? What is Terracotta and how is it applied? Let us explain.
Free, yet Costy – Terracotta’s Devious Intentions
Offering free stuff on the internet is very tempting, especially to those who don’t have the knowledge of how dangerous these offers can be.
Apparently, there are apps uploaded to Google Play Store, promising those who download them free perks if they install and keep them for a specific period of time.
The apps usually offer boots, sneakers, and shoes for free. Not to mention that some of them also distribute free coupons, tickets, and dental treatments.
Users have to keep the app installed for at least two weeks to get their free reward. If they uninstall it, they’ll lose this privilege.
The deal is clear, at least that’s what the users think. These downloaded apps run a modified version of WebView, which is a slimmed-down form of Google Chrome.
It’s hidden from the user’s view and it does its work without them even knowing. This browser performs ad fraud as it loads ads and gains revenue from fake ad impressions.
Terracotta was described as both complex and massive by the White Ops team – a security firm specialized in identifying bot behavior. Here’s why.
The botnet uses advanced techniques, which allow it to move undetected by the defrauded ad networks. Also, it’s considered to be massive due to the scale at which it operates.
In fact, according to the security firm, more than two billion ads were silently loaded by Terracotta botnet inside 65,000 infected smartphones.
Now, Google’s taking matters into its own hands, removing an undisclosed number of applications from the official Google Play Store that deemed to have been infected.
So far, the botnet’s presence has decreased, but not removed altogether, which means that Google still has a lot of work to do.
Scammers and cybercriminals are all over the internet, waiting for the right moment to strike. Or should we say, the right victim?
Most targets are individuals with little to no knowledge of how to protect their devices, which is why we advise them to start now. It’s never too late.
There are dozens of websites, including the likes of The VPN Guru, which offers comprehensive guides on how to enhance your online security and privacy.
Give it a look, obtain the information you need to be safe all the time when browsing the web.