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Invisible #Mobile #Apps Defrauding #Advertisers for Millions

Thousands of malicious mobile apps in Google and Apple’s app stores are being hijacked by rapidly-reloading ads which continue to run even when the apps are not in use. A mobile app fraud study by data scientists at Forensiq shows that over 700 hidden ads run per hour – compared to 1-2 in legitimate mobile apps.

The invisible ads continue to run even when the app is closed. A single app consumed up to 2GB of data per day, draining battery life and eating away the user’s mobile data. The apps are defrauding companies like Microsoft, Unilever, Amazon, Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz. Over a period of 10 days, Forensiq found 12 million devices affected globally. They estimate that mobile device hijacking will cost advertisers more than US$857 billion in 2015. Advertisers tricked into paying for false ads stand to lose an estimated US$480 million on Android, $363 million on iOS, and $14 million on Windows Mobile.

The mobile ads are more under-the-radar than other types of online ad fraud. Users may see one ad on their screen, but there may be 5 or 10 in the background that are hidden. Forensiq Chief Executive David Sendroff said that it may be difficult for companies like Google to spot these apps, even during vetting. A lot of the code for the apps is obfuscated, so you have to run the app to discover if something’s wrong. He added that while it’s hard to be sure exactly how the code that generates the ads actually gets in the mobile apps, he believes the app publishers are aware of, if not responsible for, the ads. The ads are undetectable by antivirus and act like botnets that scam users. But unlike botnets – which usually infect computers without their owners’ knowledge – these apps live in trusted app stores. One way to protect yourself is to scan app review sections for reports of unusual data or power usage that may indicate fraud is at play.

Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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Invisible #Mobile #Apps Defrauding #Advertisers for Millions Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, August 01, 2015 Rating: 5

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