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Researchers at security firm, ESET say they have found more than 300 apps on Google Play in the last seven months which are porn clicker trojans but masquerade as legitimate apps mostly in the form of games and direct traffic to specific sites mainly pornographic websites. Malicious porn clickers are mostly fake versions of popular games with very similar names and icons to legitimate applications.

ESET malware researcher Lukas Stefanko says that the porn clicker is one of the longest and most successful malware infiltration in the history of the Google Play Android app store and cyber criminals are continuing to upload further variants to the platform.

"This is not the first time these Trojans have appeared on Google Play; they are clearly part of a well-organized campaign. We should only expect the e-criminals behind this malware to continue updating their versions to find new ways to bypass Google's security tests and to trick consumers," he said.

According to their research ten new porn clickers a week on an average had bypassed Google's security checks and these trojans not only made it into the store, but also successfully compromised user devices. The apps mostly look like legitimate apps and games with same logos and names such as Grand Theft Auto or Subway Surfers. Once these are mistakenly downloaded they hide in the background and open an invisible browser session visiting porn sites passively and trick the user to click on ads to make more money for the owners of those sites.

How to be aware

The problem is persistent and there is no sure way to tackle this than be aware as some versions of these porn clickers have implemented an antivirus check on the installed apps. This means that even if antivirus software is installed on the device the malicious notification will not be triggered.

ESET Australia senior research fellow, Nick FitzGerald said Google Play users should thus always look at the ratings and reviews of apps before downloading and installing them. Many of these trojans get low ratings and bad reviews.

"Looking at the ratings and reviews of these fake apps, for example, shows you very quickly that the overwhelming response is negative. Apps with such reviews should be avoided at all costs," he warned.

If the problem is so serious the question then arises whether Google is aware of this critical issue. The firm says it is but the problem is just too widespread.

"Google's security team of course fights this campaign and takes the apps off the store pretty frequently, but considering how widespread porn clickers are on the Google Play Store, it is clear that neither the Google Bouncer filter, nor Google's human review process, can keep malicious apps completely out of the Store," says Stefanko.