If you are tired of being constantly bombarded with ads, app suggestions, irrelevant content on your Android phone then it may be a good idea to check the kind of apps you have installed. A security firm called MalwareBytes has discovered a very popular app with over 10 million downloads to push ads. The app in question is named Barcode Scanner. As the name suggests it simply enables people to scan barcodes and get information.
There were no issues with the Barcode Scanner app and it was even included in the Google Play Pass program. However, a new update in December, infected the Barcode Scanner app with adware.
“Users were experiencing ads that were opening via their default browser out of nowhere. The odd part is none of them had recently installed any apps, and the apps they had installed came from the Google Play store,” said MalwareBytes in its blog post.
Someone who goes by username “Anon00” found that these ads were coming from a long-time installed app called Barcode Scanner. The app has 10,000,000+ installs from Google Play. Thankfully, after alerting Google, the app has been removed from Play Store. While new users can’t download the app any longer, if you already have the Barcode Scanner app installed on your phone, it is time you should hit the delete button to stop seeing unwanted ads.
Explaining the reason as to how a legit app turned evil, the blog post said, “The majority of free apps on Google Play include some kind of in-app advertising. They do this by including an ad SDK to the code of the app. Usually at the end of the app’s development. Paid-for versions simply do not have this SDK included.”
The problem is that these SDKs are sourced from third-parties and if the SDK company changes something in the backend, the main app gets affected, thus creating problems for the end users.