Up to 38 Minecraft game clone apps on Android with millions of downloads are hiding adware that automatically generates profit for hacker without the user’s knowledge.
Discovered by McAfee’s Mobile Research Team, The sneaky “HiddenAds” adware loads advertisements in the background without disrupting the user’s game, and signs of adware – such as overheating or decrease in battery life – are disguised by the infected Minecraft-like games using device resources in order to perform.
Altogether, the Android app games had a total of 35 million downloads across the globe, including the U.S., South Korea, Brazil and more. The most popular title on the Google Play Store, “Block Box Master Diamond,” accumulated over ten million downloads alone.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular titles.
|Name of app||Google Play downloads|
|Block Box Master Diamond||10 million+|
|Craft Sword Mini Fun||5 million+|
|Block Box Skyland Sword||5 million+|
|Craft Monster Crazy Sword||5 million+|
|Block Pro Forrest Diamond||1 million+|
|Block Game Skyland Forrest||1 million+|
|Block Rainbow Sword Dragon||1 million+|
|Craft Rainbow Mini Builder||1 million+|
|Block Forrest Tree Crazy||1 million+|
|Craft Clever Monster Castle||500K+|
Once the games launch, ads are automatically loaded in the background. No signs of ads are displayed in the game app, but McAfee notes that there is an exchange of several packets by several ad libraries including Google, Unity, Supersonic and more. With similarities to Minecraft, which is one of the most popular games in the worlds with over 140 million monthly active users, it’s clear threat actors were taking advantage of the game’s success.
McAfee reached out to Google about the infected apps, and the apps have now been removed from the Google Play Store. If these apps remain on your Android device, however, you’ll want to get rid of them post-haste.
How to remove HiddenAds adware on Android
Removing adware from your device is easy. You can do it manually or have other apps do it for you, with the latter being the easiest option. That said, you can simply delete a suspicious app or program to eradicate the malicious software, too. For a better look at what is adware, we’ve got you covered.
Use adware removers and antivirus software
The best way to get rid of any malicious software that sneaks onto your device is to use an adware removal tool or antivirus software.
Many free adware removal apps will quickly dispatch any ad-based software lingering on your device. But it’s a good idea to ensure these tools are trustworthy, as hackers can also disguise these apps to deploy more malware. We recommend free apps from known cybersecurity companies, including Avast One and Malwarebytes Mobile Security. These will detect and remove any adware on your Android.
The best antivirus software comes with a suite of security features that eliminate unwanted adware and any virus, malware, ransomware, spyware or malicious software that burrows into your phone, tablet or PC. Some antivirus software, such as Bitdefender, offers security subscriptions specifically for certain devices, making it more affordable.
Remove adware on Android
- On your Android, press the necessary buttons to turn off your device.
- Tap and hold the Power off icon.
- Press OK to reboot to safe mode. This will restart your device.
- Once restarted, head to Settings.
- Navigate to Apps.
- Select any suspicious apps you wish to remove.
- Tap Uninstall. Restart your device to go back to normal mode.
Signs of adware
Adware can be easy to spot, as you’ll see many advertisements pop up out of nowhere, but other symptoms will notify you that your device needs some cleaning. This includes redirecting your browser to different web pages (like Google redirecting to Bing) and installing unwanted toolbars, extensions or plugins. However, it can also affect your device directly.
- Your device is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
- Your browser is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
- Browsing through websites takes longer.
- You need to recharge your device more often.
- Apps take longer to load.
- Slower internet speeds.
- There’s an unknown app or software on your device you didn’t download.