Even the Google Play Pass apps are no longer secure as the Barcode Scanner app is said to have been detected hosting malicious adware. The app which has over 10 million downloads is removed from the Play Store following the adware discovery. Also Read - Facebook Messenger becomes third non-Google app to garner five billion downloads on Play Store
The adware was unearthed by cybersecurity research firm Malwarebytes which revealed that some users in its forum reported strange behaviour with their browser automatically opening a dubious website prompting them to install a Cleaner app due to bogus security issues. Also Read - Website notifications bothersome? Here's how to block them on Google Chrome
With millions of users using the app, it took some time for Malwarebytes to trace the culprit. But when the security firm investigated Barcode Scanner app’s latest update it managed to obtain the obfuscated code that turned out to be a trojan that was responsible for the adware. Also Read - Roku taken aback as Google adds YouTube TV to YouTube app
As mentioned earlier, the Barcode Scanner app was a part of Google’s Play Pass program that offers perks like ad-free access to premium apps. Malwarebytes cite that the Barcode Scanner was a simple app that turned malicious following an update last year. Apparently, the update was released last year that said to have triggered the app to send adware. Android Police reports that prior to its removal from the Play Store, it was last ‘attributed’ to the developer LAVABIRD LTD which still has a selection of apps under its offering on the Play Store.
Google has delisted the app following the discovery of the intrusive ads by Malwarebytes. In case you have Barcode Scanner installed on your phone it is advised to uninstall it before you get caught up with adware. If you are unable to see the app on your device, you can download AppChecker and search for the app. If the result shows a package name “com.qrcodescanner.barcodescanner”, delete it right away. As an alternate measure, Android Police suggests that you can try and check if Barcode Scanner’s Play Store link is still active for you on your smartphone.