164 Apps With Non-contextual Advertising Were hidden in The Google Play Store For 2 years


Google has removed 164 Android apps from its official Play Store after security researchers at White Ops discovered a massive amount of out-of-context ads in them.


Out-of-context or out-of-app ads are mobile ads that appear in a pop-up or full-screen window separately from the original app.


This type of ad has been banned from the Play Store since February 2020, when Google ruled that the ad prevents users from identifying the app from which the ad was created. While the OOP ban has resulted in the removal of 600 Android apps, not all app developers have stopped abusing this mechanism.


In both June and October 2020, Google was forced to step in again and ban 38 and 240 apps, respectively, that continued to abuse the mechanism.


Now White Ops has rediscovered another cluster of apps that also abused non-contextual advertising and went unnoticed for over two years. Most of the 164 applications identified mimicked the more popular programs, copying their functionality and names. Apps were downloaded over 10 million times before they were discovered by cybersecurity specialists. A complete list of applications can be found here .


Apps have been removed from the store and disabled on users' devices, but users still need to manually remove them from their phones.


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