Google Pulls 600 Apps from Play Store

Google has removed almost 600 Android apps from its Play Store for violating its policy on disruptive advertising.

The tech giant has not only removed the titles from the Android marketplace but also banned them from Google AdMob and Ad Manager, meaning their developers will not be able to monetize them on its platforms.

The disruptive ad practices highlighted by Google included “out of context” advertising, which pops up when the user isn’t even logged into a specific app.

“This is an invasive maneuver that results in poor user experiences that often disrupt key device functions and this approach can lead to unintentional ad clicks that waste advertiser spend,” argued Per Bjorke, senior product manager for Ad Traffic Quality.

“For example, imagine being unexpectedly served a full-screen ad when you attempt to make a phone call, unlock your phone, or while using your favorite map app’s turn-by-turn navigation.”

Bjorke explained that Google had developed machine learning functionality to help detect such “out of context” ads, which led to this enforcement action.

“Mobile ad fraud is an industry-wide challenge that can appear in many different forms with a variety of methods, and it has the potential to harm users, advertisers and publishers,” he added.

Google is also getting better at finding and removing apps on its Play Store that contain malware. Last year, it claimed to have increased rejected app submissions by over 55% and app suspensions by more than 66% in 2018.

That doesn’t stop the black hats trying, however: malicious apps still make their way onto the platform and sometimes are downloaded millions of times before being blocked.

In June last year, adware was found in 238 apps on the Play Store, installed by an estimated 440 million Android users.

However, downloading apps from the official marketplace is still the recommended option: last year, Android malware dubbed “Agent Smith” was downloaded over 25 million times from a popular third-party store.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?