Pornographic malware found in Android apps for kids

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(WFLA/CNN) — Google has removed from its Google Play Store more than 60 gaming apps, many seemingly targeted at kids, that contained malware that showed pornographic ads.

According to CNN, researchers from security firm Check Point discovered the malware, called AdultSwine, in apps that have been downloaded more than 3 million times, according to a report released Friday.

The gaming apps include titles such as Mcqueen Car Racing Game, Subway Banana Run Surf, and Paw Puppy Run Subway Surf.

An individual or group of hackers created these malicious games under fake publisher names to distribute their malware and make money off the scheme, Check Point researcher Daniel Padon told CNN Tech.

Once downloaded, the malicious apps displayed “highly pornographic” pop-up advertisements in a new web page, and attempted to scare users into installing fake security apps. It also intended to get users to buy worthless premium services, the researchers found.

According to Check Point, Google removed the malicious apps hours after they were notified of the issue.

“We’ve removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them,” a Google spokesperson told CNN Tech. “We appreciate Check Point’s work to help keep users safe.”

One user said in a comment on the Google Play Store that his son saw pornographic content on one of the apps, according to Check Point’s findings.

The malware was not found in apps that are a part of Google’s “Designed for Families” program. Google staffers manually review apps designed for children. Apps made primarily for kids under 13 must participate in this program, according to the company’s website.

Google said the malicious advertisements did not come from its ad network.

Despite Google’s security precautions, malicious apps can find their way into the Google Play Store. Check Point found 303 malicious apps in the Play Store last year.

Android users should make sure they download apps from known developers and parents of young users are urged to download apps from Google’s family program. Padon also suggested checking apps’ reviews before downloading. But some malware authors create fake reviews to make their apps seem legitimate.

List of Android app displaying malware
(Source: Check Point)

App Name Minimum Downloads Maximum Downloads
Five Nights Survival Craft 1,000,000 5,000,000
Mcqueen Car Racing Game 500,000 1,000,000
Addon Pixelmon for MCPE 500,000 1,000,000
CoolCraft PE 100,000 500,000
Exploration Pro WorldCraft 100,000 500,000
Draw Kawaii 100,000 500,000
San Andreas City Craft 100,000 500,000
Subway Banana Run Surf 100,000 500,000
Exploration Lite : Wintercraft 100,000 500,000
Addon GTA for Minecraft PE 100,000 500,000
Addon Sponge Bob for MCPE 100,000 500,000
Drawing Lessons Angry Birds 50,000 100,000
Temple Crash Jungle Bandicoot 50,000 100,000
Drawing Lessons Lego Star Wars 50,000 100,000
Drawing Lessons Chibi 50,000 100,000
Girls Exploration Lite 10,000 50,000
Drawing Lessons Subway Surfers 10,000 50,000
Paw Puppy Run Subway Surf 10,000 50,000
Flash Slither Skin IO 10,000 50,000
Invisible Slither Skin IO 10,000 50,000
Drawing Lessons Lego Ninjago 10,000 50,000
Drawing Lessons Lego Chima 5,000 10,000
Temple Bandicoot Jungle Run 1,000 5,000
Blockcraft 3D 1,000 5,000
Jungle Survival Craft 1.0 1,000 5,000
Easy Draw Octonauts 1,000 5,000
halloweenskinsforminecraft 1,000 5,000
skinsyoutubersmineworld 1,000 5,000
youtubersskins 1,000 5,000
DiadelosMuertos 500 1,000
Draw X-Men 500 1,000
Moviesskinsforminecraft 500 1,000
Virtual Family – Baby Craft 500 1,000
Mine Craft Slither Skin IO 500 1,000
Guide Clash IO 100 500
Invisible Skin for Slither IO app 100 500
Zombie Island Craft Survival 100 500
HalloweenMakeUp 100 500
ThanksgivingDay 100 500
ThanksgivingDay2 100 500
Jurassic Survival Craft Game 100 500
Players Unknown Battle Ground 100 500
Subway Bendy Ink Machine Game 100 500
Shin Hero Boy Adventure Game 100 500
Temple Runner Castle Rush 100 500
Dragon Shell for Super Slither 100 500
Flash Skin for Slither IO app 50 100
AnimePictures 50 100
Pixel Survival – Zombie Apocalypse 50 100
Fire Skin for Slither IO app 10 50
San Andreas Gangster Crime 10 50
fidgetspinnerforminecraft 10 50
Stickman Fighter 2018 10 50
Subway Run Surf 10 50
Guide Vikings Hunters 10 50
Woody Pecker 10 50
Pack of Super Skins for Slither 10 50
Spinner Toy for Slither 10 50
How to Draw Coco and The Land of the Dead 10 50
How to Draw Dangerous Snakes and Lizards Species 1 5
How to Draw Real Monster Trucks and Cars 1 5
How to Draw Animal World of The Nut Job 2 1 5
How to Draw Batman Legends in Lego Style 1 5