More than a dozen popular games, health trackers and other apps on the Google Play store are bombarding users with invasive and unwanted ads, new research has revealed.

Cyber security firm Bitdefender found 17 apps that employed various tactics to deliver nuisance ads, while giving the appearance of a legitimate app.

The apps, which have more than half a million combined downloads, include a racing simulator, several QR code scanners and a weather app.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

"While not malicious per se, the tactics they use to smuggle themselves into Google Play and doge Google's vetting system are traditionally associated with malware," Bitdefender explained in a blog post.

"The apps found have flown below the radar of Google's vetting system mostly because they also delivered on their promise: they do what they say they do."

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment but Bitdefender said the technology giant had been notified of the aggressive apps and is in the process of removing them from the store.

Methods used to dodge Google Play checks include hiding their presence on a person's phone, as well as holding off from displaying ads for four hours after first being installed.

People who have already downloaded the apps reported their experience on the Google Play store, warning others to not install the apps to their devices.

"The app is showing full screen ads and that is all. Don't ever install it," one user wrote.

Another said: "Horrible intrusive ad popups even when the app is closed. I would give 0 stars if I could."

Bitdefender researchers warned that one of the consequences of aggressive ads is that they cause increased battery drainage.

The firm wrote: "While the Google Play apps found are not tagged as malware, but more as Riskware, users are strongly encouraged to always have a security solution installed on their devices, as it can accurately identify these apps and prevent users from installing them."

Comments

Share your thoughts and debate the big issues

Learn more
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Create a commenting name to join the debate

Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted
Loading comments...
Loading comments...
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Loading comments...
Loading comments...