The Google Play Store has banned 29 applications suspected of sending spam messages to users and install malicious ads on smartphones. Most of these apps include the word “blur” in the name, and pass themselves off as photo editors, allowing the user to blur part of the images.
According to the Satori intelligence team at White Ops’s ad verification, a bot detection and cybersecurity company, an important feature of these apps was playing hide and seek with the user. The app’s icon disappeared from the home screen, and it was only accessible through the Settings menu.
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According to security researchers at White Ops, none of the banned apps work as advertised and display out-of-context advertising for almost every action taken. Unwanted ads can appear when you unlock your device, charge your smartphone, or even switch between Wi-Fi and mobile data. Some of the malware also opened random pop-ups in the web browser for almost all other actions.
Some of the malicious programs in the list had more than 3.5 million downloads; one of them being the Square Photo Blur. To uninstall the apps, you need to go to the “Settings” menu, access “Apps,” find the program, and manually select the uninstall option. All these applications are part of the research known as “CHARTREUSEBLUR”.
List of Google Play Store banned apps
Check out the full list of apps banned from the Google Play Store. Auto Picture Cut, Color Call Flash, Square Photo Blur v2.0.5, Square Photo Blur v7.0, Magic Call Flash, Easy Blur, Image Blur, Auto Photo Blur, Photo Blur, Photo Blur Master, Super Call Screen, Square Blur Master, The Square Blur, Square Blur Photo, Smart Photo Blur, Super Call Flash, Smart Call Flash, Blur Photo Editor, Blur Image, Super Blur, Square Image Blur, Super Blur Photo, Super Photo Blur, Photo Blur Editor, Pro Blur Photo, Auto Photo Cut, Smart Call Screen, test.com.flash.call.flashcall.cool and com.auto.photo.editor.background.eraser.tool