MILLIONS of Android owners may be harbouring apps that are secretly playing adverts in the background and draining their battery and data.
Cyber experts at McAfee have issued a warning over 43 Android apps that should be deleted for their data-hogging and battery-draining ways.
These apps have, collectively, been downloaded more than 2.5million times.
They're mostly sold as TV/DMB player, music download, news and calendar apps.
But they could end up costing you a fortune in unnecessary data fees, and even cloud data storage costs.
Apps that play ads and eat up your mobile data even when your screen is switched off are banned by Google.
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However, they can sometimes slip through the cracks.
To avoid detection, the adverts don't begin to play behind the scenes until a few weeks after they've been installed.
So, you may not notice anything different straight away.
"These apps load ads while the device’s screen is off, which might initially seem convenient for users," experts at McAfee wrote in a recent blog post.
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"This affects not only the advertisers who pay for invisible Ads, but also the users as it drains battery, consumes data and poses potential risks such as information leaks and disruption of user profiling caused by Clicker behaviour."
The McAfee team raised the issue with Google, which has since removed most of the 'problem' apps from the Android Play Store.
However, even if an app been removed from the Play Store, you'll need to delete it manually from your device if you've downloaded it.
McAfee has a full list of the apps here.
If you wish to avoid these kinds of apps in the future, McAfee advises folks to check two permissions an app might ask for after being downloaded:
- "Power saving exclusions: Exclude this app when saving battery? This may drain the battery faster."
- "You must allow to draw over other apps. Please allow in settings."
If these pop up after downloading an app, always say no.
Otherwise, you're inviting them to drain your battery unnecessarily.
"It is essential for users to exercise caution and carefully evaluate the necessity of granting permissions like power saving exclusion, or draw over other apps before allowing them," experts added.
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"These permissions can enable certain activities to occur discreetly in the background, raising concerns about the intentions and behavior of the applications or libraries in question.
"Allowing these permissions can result in more malicious behaviour, such as displaying phishing pages, also to displaying ads in the background."
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