Malware that Earns by Displaying Ads through Common Apps has Infected 25 Million Devices Worldwide

A new malware that can go undetected and target devices is making rounds on millions of android devices across the globe. The malware has been named as Agent Smith due to its nature. The malicious code built within the app forces other apps to display more ads. It simply takes over other apps in a device and earns through such ads. The malware has reportedly affected more than 25 million phones worldwide.

The app hacks some of the most common apps that android users have on their devices like WhatsApp, Opera Mini, Flipkart, etc. The app has affected more than 300,000 devices in the United States. However, the most hard-hit region remained India with the malware having infiltrated over 15 million devices. The primary source of the malware is 9Apps, a third-party app store owned by Alibaba. The secret malware infects android devices through other suspicious developers which host apps related to sex, games, photo-editing, etc.

The malware quickly spreads to other genuine apps in the device and starts replacing their code in order to display ads. Such malicious codes were also found to be lying dormant in at least 11 apps on the Google Play Store. These apps have now been removed from the store by Google. No reports have yet been received on whether the malware tries to steal data from the phones.

Check Point, an Israeli security company suggested that some anonymous Chinese developers from Guangzhou might be associated with the malware. It is called an effort by the developers to advertise their apps across the globe. However, researchers are still suspicious about other ways in which the malware can harm the devices. Jonathan Shimonovich, Head of Mobile Threat Detection Research at Check Point Software Technologies said, “Due to its ability to hide it’s icon from the launcher and impersonates any popular existing apps on a device, there are endless possibilities for this sort of malware to harm a user’s device.”