Four apps that take advantage of the upcoming elections in the United States have been discovered by the security software company Trend Micro. Once installed, these apps get information about one’s device and could use that information without the user’s permission, often for malicious activities.
Trend Micro found four of these malware-infected apps on Google Play. The Mountain View company, however, had already taken one of these apps down. They are likewise available on third-party app stores.
One of the apps, called “Obama vs Romney,” lets users choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, after which, it promises to show the results of the poll. The app, however, displays the message “you probably want to start clicking as soon as possible,” directing users to Airpush ads from the Airpush mobile advertising website. Trend Micro detects this as an ANDROIDOS_AIRPUSH variant. Likewise, the app has ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION that accesses location data. The app has been downloaded by around 500 to 1,000 times on Google Play and 300 times on third-party app stores.
Another app is called “Captain America Barack Obama 1.0” which provides a 3D wallpaper of the president and the American flag. Like the previously-mentioned app, this also comes with ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION. Trend Micro detects this as a variant of ANDROIDOS_ADWLEADBOLT. This is no longer available on Google Play but can be downloaded elsewhere. This app has 720 installs from third-party websites.
The third and fourth apps are called “Barack Obama Campaign LWP 1” and “Mitt Romney Live Wallpaper 1.” These both come with ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION as well as ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION as well as ads.
To avoid being a victim of such apps, Trend Micro admonishes users to check the reviews of the apps they want to download as well as take a look at the name of the developer, and do a background check of their reputation. It is also useful to give attention the permissions that an app asks for before installation.