Data Security

Google kicks out 600 malicious apps from Play Store

Google’s Play Store is in the news for good reason.

About a week ago, we saw Google clamp down on malicious Chrome extensions removing about 500 of them in coordination with researchers. This time they’re back but on a different platform.

We’re talking about the Play Store where recently the company has removed 600 apps for violating two of their policies, namely the disruptive ads and disallowed interstitial policy. Alongside this, it has also banned these apps from Google AdMob & Ad Manager, their monetization platforms.

To delve into these policies, they present a number of guidelines that users should abide by:

  • They should not force users to click on their ads through means such as displaying the ad over the whole screen or not clearly showing a cross sign for closing the ad. Furthermore, interstitial ads should not be shown when opening or exiting the app but only “in between pages of app content.”

  • The ads should not misuse or interfere with the device’s own functionality or other apps by things such as displaying an ad when the app itself is not open. Another method in violation would include “Ads that are triggered by the home button or other features explicitly designed for exiting the app.”



  • The ad must not be “inappropriate” in the context of the app’s audience. For example, if there’s an app intended to serve as a game for young children, it is illegal to show adult-rated ads in such an app.

Another example by Google illustrating what would constitute an inappropriate ad.

The apps currently haven’t been named but according to Buzzfeed, a senior Google product manager has stated that these apps had over 4.5 billion installations, were targeted towards English speaking audiences and included the majority of developers to be from India, China, Singapore & Hong Kong.

Moreover, the majority of these were either utility apps or games. Commenting on what led to this, Google officially stated:

“We recently developed an innovative machine-learning based approach to detect when apps show out-of-context ads, which led to the enforcement we’re announcing today.”

In summation, this is an effective step in sending out a message to malicious app developers out there. It goes along the lines of “You may be able to get away with it for now but know that we’re constantly working to make our app store safer and so could ban you at any moment.”

This can act as a strong deterrent as no one would want to risk their efforts to the possibility of getting caught suddenly. We can, for the time, hope to see a decrease in malware spreading through apps on the Play Store as well.

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