Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system with over 2.5 billion users. That makes it a prime target for malicious third-parties that want to infect devices across the globe with malware. Most recently, the team at Barracuda Security discovered almost 200 apps that contained either adware or a suspicious combination of device permissions. And now cybersecurity company White Ops has identified 116 apps – with more than 4.6 million downloads between them – it claims are performing ad fraud.
The firm said the apps are leveraging a type of code it nicknamed “Soraka” and a similar variant named “Sogo”. In a nutshell, the code allows the programmes in question to display adverts over an Android device under certain circumstances.
White Ops performed a deep dive into one of the apps in question that remains on the Google Play Store at the time of writing, Best Fortune Explorer. The app seems a tantalising premise – get a glimpse into your future – but the reality is much more frustrating.
The app was noted to leverage a framework called AppsFlyer that’s used for mobile attribution and marketing analytics. According to the security firm, if you download the app through any kind of promotion (such as on a website for example), then intrusive adverts will plague the device in question.
White Ops showed a GIF of the frustrating promotions in action. Best Fortune Explorer was exhibited to be capable of displaying full screen adverts (that last up to 20-seconds in some circumstances) over a user’s home screen.
Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system with over 2.5 billion users (Image: Getty • Google)
Best Fortune Explorer was shown to display intrusive ads under certain circumstances (Image: White Ops)
Best Fortune Explorer remains on the Google Play Store at the time of writing (Image: Express Newspapers)
All of the apps discovered were noted to demonstrate similar behaviours. The adware being used was noted to be capable of hiding, making it harder to detect by apps designed to root out malware like VirusTotal.
Speaking with Forbes, White Ops’ John Laycock said: “Those hiding behaviours are significant. The fraudsters are getting smarter—they know this is now an arms race, they’re trying to slow down analysis with these tactics. We’re seeing these types of behaviours more and more.”
You only need to take a read of Best Fortune Explorer’s reviews to see that something is seriously wrong with the app. Numerous comments note after installing it their phone has been burdened with annoying adverts.
One Android user said: “Totally useless. After installing, you get so many unnecessary ads. While writing this also, I got 4 ads. This is like a virus for your phone.”
Another wrote: “Don’t download it. You will just time pass. And main problem after download is you will get non-stop adds and adds. Even you cannot get to use anything. And also there is nothing like shown in adds. It is like a virus.”
At the time of writing, Best Fortune Explorer has amassed over 100,000 installs and has an average review rating of three stars.
According to Forbes, Google has been informed of the apps discovered by White Ops. However, it seems some of the 116 programmes remain on the Play Store.
White Ops urged Android fans to remove any of the apps in question if they have them installed and provided the package names for each.
They were listed as being:
Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries
Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.
Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver
EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.
Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.
Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.
South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.
Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.
($1 = 1,117.7000 won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum
The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.
Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.
Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.
The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.
The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.
Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.
In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.
Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.
Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.
In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.
Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.
The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.
($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)