Eight Android apps with more than 2 billion downloads in the Google Play store have participated in fraudulent ad practices,…
Eight Android apps with more than 2 billion downloads in the Google Play store have participated in fraudulent ad practices, BuzzFeed News reported today. Seven of the programs are owned by Cheetah Mobile, a publicly traded Chinese company, and an app is owned by Kika Tech, a Chinese company headquartered in Silicon Valley. The two companies have been found abusing app permissions to monitor new downloads and capable app installments that can range in millions of dollars, according to app analytics firm Kochava.
While the system involved user behavior monitoring, it was ultimately common to rip app developers, who pay a fee to partners when they run users to install new apps. In a typical installation process, downloaded apps will check which link or ad the user clicked to see where to specify the download. These apps were supposed to monitor new downloads and claim credits for the installation, regardless of where the last click came or which publisher served the ad. In some cases, Cheetah Mobiles apps have been programmed to launch the newly downloaded programs themselves to get credit for the installation, according to the report.
Cheetah Mobile apps suspected of participating in ad fraud are Clean Master, CM File Manager, CM Launcher 3D, Security Officer, Battery Doctor, CM Locker and Cheetah Keyboard, many of which have been downloaded several times and even promoted by Google Play as “go to apps”. Cheetah Mobile, which already has a reputation for making crapware given identical names to popular apps to trick users to download them, has also been faced with accusations of producing traffic and revenue figures and buying user reviews.
The Kika Techs Keka Keyboard app has also been shown to have similar tactics to claim remittance credits. The keyboard required users to authorize what was written, then monitored for installation fees for apps based on what the user was looking for. Although both programmers have denied the allegations, suggesting that third party SDKs would be behind the injections of clicks, Kochava’s demand was challenged, revealing that only the company’s own SDKs were involved in fraudulent practices.
Today’s results are just the latest in a news story of Google Play ad scams, as a October report BuzzFeed News found that over 1
25 Android apps were included in a comprehensive anti-fraud system that exceeded $ 10 million stolen from fake impressions by advertisers. The report resulted in Google removing many of the Play Store apps and last week, the company pulled 13 programs that contained malicious code downloaded half a million times. Google told BuzzFeed News that it is still investigating Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech, but hopefully the company will continue to shave off the trick of fraudulent app manufacturers.