Recently, it was reported that 42 malicious apps on Google Play Store affected around 8 million Android users. The search giant has already removed most of these apps. However, there is still a third-party app that continues to pose a threat to millions of users. A fresh report claims that there is a keyboard app, called Ai.type, that can steal your money. As per Upstream Secure-D mobile security platform, this app was downloaded over 40 million times. Also Read - PUBG Mobile gets a Rs 200 coupon on Google Play Store again
If users download this customizable on-screen keyboard app (or those who are still using the app), they will have to pay a higher price. The cited source says this app has been making millions of unauthorized purchases of premium digital content. Ai.type is basically a free keyboard app, which has been delivering invisible ads, generating fake traffic and subscribing users to premium services. Also Read - Xiaomi Mi Pay app now available on Google Play Store
“Ai.type contains software development kits (SDKs) with hardcoded links to ads and subscribes users to premium services without their consent. These SDKs navigate to the ads via a series of redirections and automatically perform clicks to trigger the subscriptions. This is committed in the background so that normal users will not realize it is taking place,” Dimitris Maniatis, head of Secure-D at Upstream, explained. Also Read - 42 malicious apps on Google Play Store affected 8 million Android users: Report
The report also claims that security researchers at Upstream identified and blocked more than 14 million transaction requests from 110,000 devices. “If not blocked these transaction requests would have triggered the purchase of premium digital services, potentially costing users up to $18 million in unwanted charges,” the report stated. This suspicious activity has been reportedly recorded across 13 countries.
Interestingly, Google removed the Ai.type app from the Play Store in June this year, but it is still available via other Android marketplaces. The report says this third-party app is still on millions of Android devices. Android users are recommended to avoid downloading apps from any third-party sources. Additionally, if you find any suspicious app on your phone, you need to uninstall it as soon as possible. Besides, just yesterday, Google announced that it has teamed up with three security firms to identify harmful apps before they are on the Play Store. This move should help Google catch harmful apps before they hit the Play Store.