San Francisco, April 17: Google Play has been infiltrated by a new Android malware called 'Goldoson', which has been discovered in 60 legitimate apps with a combined total of 100 million downloads. The malicious malware component is integrated into a third-party library that the developers inadvertently incorporated into all sixty apps, reports BleepingComputer.

The Android malware, discovered by McAfee's research team, is capable of collecting a range of sensitive data, including information on the user's installed apps, WiFi and Bluetooth-connected devices, and GPS locations.

Additionally, it can perform ad fraud by clicking ads in the background without the user's consent, according to the report. When a user runs a Goldoson-containing app, the library registers the device and obtains its configuration from an obfuscated remote server. Google Purges Hundreds of Loan Apps From Play Store in Africa After India.

The setup specifies the data-stealing and ad-clicking functions Goldoson should do on the infected device and how frequently. Moreover, the report said that the data collection mechanism is commonly set to activate every two days, transmitting a list of installed apps, geographical position history, MAC addresses of devices connected via Bluetooth and WiFi, and other information to the C2 server. The amount of data collected is determined by the permissions granted to the infected app during installation as well as the Android version.

Although Android 11 later are better protected against arbitrary data collection, researchers discovered that Goldoson had enough rights to acquire sensitive data in 10 per cent of the apps even in newer versions of the OS, the report mentioned.

Ad income is generated by loading HTML code and injecting it into a customised, hidden WebView, and then using that to execute numerous URL visits. There is no indication of this action on the victim's device.

In January, Google's Threat Analysis Group terminated thousands of accounts associated with a group known as 'Dragonbridge' or 'Spamouflage Dragon' that disseminated pro-Chinese disinformation on various platforms. Google Bans 12 Popular Android Apps on Play Store, Users Asked to Delete Them Immediately (Full List).

According to the tech giant, Dragonbridge gets new Google Accounts from bulk account sellers, and at times they have even used accounts previously used by financially motivated actors repurposed for posting disinformation videos and blogs.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 17, 2023 09:18 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website