Home Security Check Point claims Judy is 'largest malware campaign' on Google Play

Check Point claims Judy is 'largest malware campaign' on Google Play

Check Point researchers have discovered yet another widespread malware campaign in 41 apps on Google Play. They claim that it is possibly the largest malware campaign found yet on Google Play.

Check Point has dubbed the malware, dubbed “Judy” as most of the apps are about a fictitious character named Judy. It is an auto-clicking adware which was found on 41 apps developed by a South Korean company.

The malware uses infected devices to generate large amounts of fraudulent clicks on advertisements, generating revenues for the perpetrators behind it. The malicious apps reached between 4.5 million and 18.5 million downloads – an estimated 36 million users.

The researchers said some of the apps they discovered had resided on Google Play for several years, but all were recently updated. It is unclear how long the malicious code existed inside the apps, so the actual spread of the malware remains unknown.

Google quickly removed the 41 apps and pointed out that the malware was not discovered in testing for Play Store – something it calls “Bouncer”.

Check Point said to bypass Bouncer, Google Play’s protection, the hackers create a seemingly benign bridgehead app, meant to establish a connection to the victim’s device, and insert it into the app store.

Once a user downloads a malicious app, it silently registers receivers which establish a connection with the C&C server. The server replies with the actual malicious payload, which includes JavaScript code, a user-agent string, and URLs controlled by the malware author.

The malware opens the URLs using the user agent that imitates a PC browser in a hidden web page and receives a redirection to another website. Once the targeted website is launched, the malware uses the JavaScript code to locate and click on banners from the Google ads infrastructure.

Check Point says the malicious apps were all developed by a South Korean company named Kiniwini, registered on Google Play as ENISTUDIO corp.

The company develops mobile apps for both Android and iOS platforms. It is quite unusual to find an actual organization behind the mobile malware, as most of them are developed by purely malicious actors. The activity conducted by the malware is not borderline advertising, but an illegitimate use of the users’ mobile devices for generating fraudulent clicks, benefiting the attackers.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!