According to a Buzzfeed report, eight Android applications, with more than 2 billion downloads from Google Playstore, have been caught misusing the users’ permissions to make more money.
The article reports seven out off eight apps owned by Cheetah Mobile, a renowned Chinese Developer group and eighth app is owned by Kika Tech another app company with its HQ in Silicon Valley. The companies claim more than 700 million active users per month on their mobile apps.
The allegations are the latest shock for a large sector of digital advertising technology that continues to face a multi – billion dollar fraud problem and a mobile ecosystem full of malicious advertising and fraudulent practices.
The apps in question are :
- Clean Master
- Security Master
- CM Launcher 3D
- Kika Keyboard
- Battery Doctor
- Cheetah Keyboard
- CM Locker
- CM File Manager
These apps have been found to be involved in massive ad fraud. They abuse the app permissions to monitor new app downloads and hijack the app installation commissions. Google estimated that nearly $10 million had been stolen by its and its partners, after which many apps were removed from the Play Store.
The honest efforts of the developers are being ripped off by this process of ad fraud. The app developers who pay the bounty for driving new app installations are torn down. The report suggests that the apps in question track when users download a new app and use this information to claim installation costs.
The users of these apps might find their battery consumption at peak at all times. and data usage as well.
“This is theft — no other way to say it,” said Kochava, an app analytics firm that shared its findings with BuzzFeed. “These are real companies doing it — at scale — not some random person in their basement,” he said.
In a recent statement, Cheetah Mobile has argued that this may be due to the unfair behaviour of SDKs from various ad platforms. On the other hand, Kika Tech has denied any intention to engage in such advertising fraud practices.