In the course of the summer, Google banned more than 240 Android apps from the official Play Store because they violated a rule introduced in February that prohibits so-called out-of-context ads. At the beginning of the year, the company deleted more than 600 such apps.
Out-of-context ads are advertisements that open mobile apps outside of the normal app container. They usually appear as pop-ups or even as full-screen ads.
The now banned apps were discovered by security provider White Ops. According to a blog entry by the company, the developers of the apps tried to hide the origin of the ads by designing them as if they came from other and above all better-known apps.
Google banned Android apps by RainboxMix
Behind these apps are supposed to be a group that White Ops calls RainboxMix. The group appeared for the first time in April. Since then, the cybercriminals’ apps have received more than 14 million downloads. In August, the campaign reached its peak with 15 million ad views per day.
According to telemetry data from the researchers, the apps were mainly installed in America and Asia. Brazil had a share of 20.8 percent, Indonesia 19.7 percent and the USA 7.7 percent. A full list of all affected apps can be found in the White Ops blog post .
Back in June, White Ops researchers uncovered a campaign with malicious Android apps that led to the deletion of 38 applications from the Play Store. They had found their way to more than 20 million devices since the beginning of January 2019.