Recently, Quick Heal Security Lab identified 27 malicious apps on the official Google Play Store that prompted users to install a fake 'Google Play Store app' even as official Play Store already existed. The Google has now removed these 27 apps from the Play Store.
"If a user falls prey to this trap and installs the fake Google Play Store app, then his device gets infected by an Adware. The parent apps launch the dropped app without any user interaction. On launching, it displays some stored wallpapers and after that, it hides its icon. So, the user will not be able to identify easily which app is showing the advertisements," says Quick Heal Security Lab.
The fake Google Play Store remains in the device even after its parent app is uninstalled and it keeps on displaying full screen adds at random time intervals. These apps were uploaded by the developer named "AFAD Drift Racer" and belong to free car racing games category. Some of names include Clio car drift, Supra car drift, F500 car drift, and more.
Showing aggressive ads and making money from them is a monetisation concept used by malware authors. In this case, even if users were not using the app, full-screen ads showed up.
What happens when you install
These malicious apps, after installation, kept showing an installation prompt of fake Google Play Store. It stated that the Google Play Store needed to be installed for gaming purposes. Even after the user cancelled the installation, the prompt would appear again, forcing the user to install the app.
On executing the parent app, it launched the dropped app. For making an illusion of a genuine Google Play Store app, it used a similar icon of the Google Play Store.
After installing the fake Google Play Store app, the app would remain visible for a few seconds before it automatically hid the icon. This app kept running in the background and showed full-screen ads until users did not uninstall it manually.
Quick Heal Mobile Security detected these apps by detection name "Android.Dropper.F" and the dropped apps by detection name "Android.HiddenAd.A".
For gaming purposes, Google Play Games is required. If any game is not supported by the latest version of Google Play Games, there is a pop-up to update Google Play Games. It redirects to the Play Store.
Google Play Games never download itself nor gives a pop-up for installation.
Check and remove fake Google Play Store if installed
You can easily check whether the fake app is installed on your phone or not. Go to Settings followed by App & Notification (in certain cases it could be Settings followed by App Manager). The next step is to identify the fake Google Play Store. Genuine Google Play Store app can never be uninstalled and shows the option to disable instead. If such a Google Play Store app is found on your phone, you should uninstall it immediately.