At a time when smartphone usage has become an important part of our daily lives, the convenience and functionality that smartphone apps offer cannot be overstated.
However, recent reports have uncovered a disturbing trend where popular Android apps with over 2.5 million downloads continue to serve ads – even when the device’s display is off.
This invasive behavior not only degrades the user experience, but also raises privacy and data security concerns. Here’s how you can protect yourself from this rising trend in mobile apps.
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The worrying trend
43 apps available on Google’s Play Store were found to run in the background and fraudulently bring money to the app’s developer. The A full list of these apps can be found on McAfee’s website.
The discovery of Android apps with significant download numbers that engage in clandestine advertising behavior has sent shockwaves through the mobile app ecosystem.
Research conducted by Beeping computer And McAfee security has revealed that a significant number of seemingly harmless apps continue to display ads even when a user’s device screen is off. This phenomenon is not only annoying, but also raises legitimate concerns about how these apps work behind the scenes.
The potential risks
privacy concerns: Apps that display ads when the device screen is off could potentially access personal and sensitive user information without their consent. While not all apps exhibiting this behavior may be malicious, the act itself demonstrates a disregard for user privacy.
battery consumption: Displaying advertisements even when the screen is off can significantly impact the battery life of the device. Users may notice unexpected and rapid battery drain, resulting in a degraded overall experience.
data usage: Background advertising activity may result in increased data usage, potentially resulting in additional charges for users with limited data plans.
vulnerabilities: Apps exhibiting this behavior could create security holes on the user’s device, leaving it vulnerable to malware, phishing, or other cyber threats.
To become active
For users who have installed apps with such intrusive behavior, here are some recommended steps:
Uninstall suspicious apps: Identify apps that have exhibited the behavior of the ad display when the display is off. Uninstall these apps immediately to mitigate potential risks.
Check app permissions: Pay close attention to the permissions that apps request during installation or updates. If an app is asking for unnecessary permissions that might compromise your privacy, you should consider uninstalling it.
Check app reviews: Before installing an app, read user reviews and ratings on the Google Play Store. Check the app’s reviews for mentions of invasive ads or other suspicious behavior.
Use ad blockers: Consider using reputable ad-blocking apps, which can prevent intrusive ads from appearing on your device even when the screen is off.
Update regularly: Keep your Android operating system and apps up to date. Developers often release updates that address security and privacy concerns.
Report to Google: If you encounter an app that displays ads when the screen is off, report it to Google through the Play Store. This helps improve the overall quality and security of the app ecosystem.