If your Android phone throws up random ads in the middle of phone calls, your phone is probably infected with malware. Cybersecurity researchers at Lookout have identified as many as 238 apps on the Google Play Store that was also installing the BeiTaAd adware plug-in on phones.
As it turns out, these include some very popular apps, too, and have been downloaded over 440 million times on Android phones. Lookout reported the malicious functionality to Google and the BeiTaAd adware has subsequently been removed from all the affected apps on the Play Store.
The apps that installed BeiTaAd adware include TouchPal Keyboard Pro, Smart Scan, Abs Workout, Color Screen, Drink Water Reminder, Horoscope Prediction, and Smart Radio FM. If you have one of the 238 apps that may have installed BeiTaAd on your Android phone, what do you do? You need to either uninstall these apps or if they are preloaded on your phone, you could disable them by going into Settings -> Apps.
If neither is an option for you and you want to continue using them, you might want to immediately update these apps from the Google Play Store, to get the new and clean version of these apps. The BeiTaAd has been traced to Chinese company CooTek, best known for its Android keyboard app called TouchPal. Lookout says that once this adware became active, it rendered the phones essentially useless.
“While out-of-app ads are not particularly novel, those served by this plugin render the phones nearly unusable. Users have reported being unable to answer calls or interact with other apps, due to the persistent and pervasive nature of the ads displayed,” says Kristina Balaam, Security Intelligence Engineer, Lookout in a security blog post.
Incidentally, this plugin didn’t do anything to announce its presence immediately after the infected apps were installed on Android phones. “These ads do not immediately bombard the user once the offending application is installed but become visible at least 24 hours after the application is launched. For example, obtrusive ads did not present themselves until two weeks after the application, Smart Scan app had been launched on a Lookout test device,” says Balaam.
It is now up to Google to lay down a strict law, and perhaps make an example, for app developers to know that they can’t simply bundle such ad fetching add-ons with applications distributed for Android phones.
Free Fire to Celebrate 5th Anniversary with Justin Bieber
Free Fire’s 5th-anniversary celebrations are off to an exciting start as it launches a spectacular 5-part extravaganza to delight fans and players. The festivities are set to culminate on 27 August with several in-game content drops involving global icon Justin Bieber, who is headlining this special anniversary collaboration. The Free Fire community can revel and reminisce iconic anniversary celebrations over the years with the weekly rollout of 5 specially-designed chapters – Battle, Style, Map, Hero and Memory. Experience new in-game events, gain exclusive rewards, and enjoy Free Fire like never before.
Free Fire will host its first ever in-game performance on 27 August, with Justin Bieber set to debut an exclusive track “Beautiful Love (Free Fire)” as part of the 5th-anniversary celebrations. Players can look forward to immersing themselves in an interactive set-up, groove along to custom emotes, participate in minigames and potentially even perform with Justin Bieber’s avatar on stage. A permanent in-game character modelled after Justin Bieber will also be unveiled and distributed to all players.
To commemorate this unique celebration, Free Fire will also give away the highly coveted Magic Cube to players, allowing them to easily redeem their favourite exclusive costume bundles and battle in style. Players will be able to try their hand at various daily and time-limited missions, accumulating tokens which can be swapped for exclusive rewards in the exchange store. With iconic costumes and classic guns available to unlock during these missions, players can expect a nostalgic and exciting experience every day.
Expansive, dynamic maps are iconic features of Free Fire and players can look forward to the release of a new map Nexterra, which has been enhanced with various elements to elevate and diversify the battle experience for players. There will also be new game modes for players to explore, including:
- A new limited-time mode Free For All. Set against the backdrop of El Pastelo, it will simulate intense close combat point-based matches where up to 16 players will battle it out. Players will be able to select their own weapons and can obtain points by eliminating other players. Matches will be decided by the first player to accumulate a predetermined amount of points.
- An exclusive 5th-anniversary mode Droid Apocalypse, which will see 12 players compete in each match, vying to become the ultimate droid. Players will get to select their own type of droid and convert as many humans as possible before the timer runs out. When only a predetermined number of humans remain, they will transform into hunters and have enhanced stats, as well as the ability to permanently eliminate droids. Points can be gained based on performance and the player with the most points after three rounds will win the match.
New Malicious Campaign Hunts Discord Messenger Users
On July 26, using the internal automated system for monitoring open-source repositories, Kaspersky researchers identified a malicious campaign dubbed LofyLife. The campaign employed 4 malicious packages spreading Volt Stealer and Lofy Stealer malware in the open-source npm repository to gather various information from victims, including Discord tokens and credit card information, and to spy on them over time.
Volt Stealer was used to stealing Discord tokens from the infected machines along with the victim’s IP address and upload them via HTTP. The Lofy Stealer, a new development from the attackers, is able to infect Discord client files and monitor the victim’s actions – detecting when a user logs in, changes email or password details, enables or disables multi-factor authentication and adds new payment methods, including full credit card details. Collected information is also uploaded to the remote endpoint.
“Developers rely heavily on open-source code repositories – they use them to make IT-solution developments faster and more efficient and significantly contribute to the development of the IT industry as a whole. As the LofyLife campaign shows, however, even reputable repositories cannot be trusted by default – all code, including open-source code, that a developer injects into his products becomes their own responsibility. We’ve added detections of this malware to our products, so users who run our solutions will be able to identify whether they have been infected and remove the malware,” comments Leonid Bezvershenko, a security researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team.
Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) Removed From Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India
India blocked a popular battle-royale format game from Krafton Inc, a South Korean company backed by China’s Tencent, using a law it has invoked since 2020 to ban Chinese apps on national security concerns, a source said. Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was removed from Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store as of Thursday evening in India.
The removal of BGMI, which had more than 100 million users in India, comes after India’s 2020 ban of another Krafton title, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The PUBG crackdown was part of New Delhi’s ban of more than 100 mobile apps of Chinese origins, following a months-long border standoff between the nuclear-armed rivals.
The ban has expanded since to cover more than 300 apps, including popular gaming app ‘Free Fire’, owned by Singapore’s technology group Sea Ltd. Tencent held a 13.5% stake in Krafton as of end-March through an investment vehicle, according to Krafton’s regulatory filing.
Krafton shares slumped more than 9% on the news on Friday, later paring losses to trade down 4.5% as of afternoon trade in Seoul. The company said in May India accounted for a high single-digit percentage of its revenue in the first quarter of this year.
According to news reports, a Google spokesperson said it blocked the game following a government directive. In Seoul, a Krafton spokesperson said the developer was talking to relevant authorities and companies to figure out the exact situation regarding the suspension in the two major app stores in India.
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