Android, the mobile OS developed by Google, is the most widely used operating system in the world. While it leads in the sheer number of users, it isn’t the most secure mobile platform. Time and again, Android has proven to be infected with malware and adware due to open source nature. Now, security researchers have found a new kind of mobile adware hidden in hundreds of Android apps. According to researchers at security firm Check Point, these apps have been downloaded more than 150 million times from Google Play Store.

Dubbed SimBad, the malware has reportedly been masquerading as an ad-serving platform and has infected more than 200 apps. The security researchers note that these developers may not be aware of the adware buried into their applications. They also have the capability to create a backdoor and install additional malware to outsmart Google’s scanning system for Play Store. According to TechCrunch, the malware once installed, is also able to remove the app icon, but continue to exist in the background.

The malware after retrieving instructions from the command and control server, it runs through a list of web addresses in the background and serves ads to generate fraudulent revenue. The security researchers have provided a list of the apps that are affected by this adware and Google has removed them from Play Store. The removal of these apps by Google does not delete the app from user’s devices. The top 10 downloaded games reportedly amount to around 55 million downloads and include titles such as Snow Heavy Excavator Simulator, Hoverboard Racing and Real Tractor Farming Simulator.

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Aviran Hazum, mobile threat intelligence team leader at Check Point, told TechCrunch that some of the games date back to March 2017. While the malware is acting as an adware now, it could become a bigger threat eventually. This comes after Google announced that it removed about 7,00,000 apps last year.

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