Is your Android phone feeling hot to the touch, acting sluggish, in need of frequent charges, or using dramatically more data than it used to? It may be a victim of DrainerBot, a major fraud operation distributed through Google Play apps with more than 10 million downloads, researchers said Wednesday.
The apps catered to a wide variety of interests, from makeup and beauty to mobile gaming. Under the hood, the apps download hidden video ads to the phones that consume as much as 10GB per month of bandwidth. While the videos are never viewed or visible by anyone, the downloads generate fraudulent advertising revenue each time a legitimate end user device appears to view a video while visiting a spoofed but legitimate publisher site.
“DrainerBot is one of the first major ad fraud operations to cause clear and direct financial harm to consumers,” said Eric Roza, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Data Cloud, which uncovered the scheme. “DrainerBot-infected apps can cost users hundreds of dollars in unnecessary data charges while wasting their batteries and slowing their devices.”