Google came under attack last year when the company was found to be allowing apps that contained malware that affected Windows PC. Following the incident, Google took down several apps and promised stricter rules moving forward. Even after that Google had to take down a number of apps for clickfraud and the list included apps from popular developer DO Global.
Unfortunately, Google still hasn’t fixed its app moderation system as a new report from a mobile security firm Lookout (via BGR), claims that over 230 apps on the Play Store come with BeiTaAd Plugin. This is a particular strain of adware that could render your mobile useless.
While out-of-app ads are not particularly novel, those served by this plugin render the phones nearly unusable. Users have reported being unable to answer calls or interact with other apps, due to the persistent and pervasive nature of the ads displayed.
According to Lookout, the apps, at first would behave normally and then would start displaying “out of app” ads which would fill up the screen and would show up even when the device is locked. After the report was released, Google pulled off most of the apps and the rest were updated to a version which doesn’t have BeiTaAd Plugin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t before the apps were downloaded in aggregate more than 440 million times.
While we are still waiting for a statement from Google, this incident is evidence of Google allowing developers to play fast and loose with their app moderation policies.