Potential OEM software exploit appears to allow malware via ads

A couple of days ago I noticed what appeared to be a Play Store popup asking me to install something. It was fishy and looked like the kind of things my kids would click on their locked down old phones (they’ve gone from old iPads to old phones which evidently make them cool).

Sure enough my suspicions were validated, if not confirmed for what I saw. As of a couple of days ago advertising, apps, and your neighbor’s dog can evidently bypass Google Play and install apps (potentially,) without your permission using OEM preinstalled Digital Turbine software.

As a note, I use the word “potentially” here because I’m not risking my legal neck on the claims of internet peeps. Several hundred of them.

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Now, the software Digital Turbine is what’s used by carriers to push apps to you. It’s not inherently a bad thing. It’s a tool, and evidently a few developers figured out how to use it push their crapware onto your device from ads, replace the launcher with theirs, and basically take over a user’s phone to the point you have to start in safe mode and know what you need to uninstall in order to get control back.

One of the apps reported is Weather Radar (pictured above) – here’s a link to it, do not install it.

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Some other apps by that developer

The company claims to be offering an “upgrade” to your OEM home screen for easy access to content “you actually care about.”

As evidenced by the screenshots over on Reddit there’s zero notice it’s a launcher in the ads, which are able to install the app bypassing an install from Google Play.

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Click to expand

So basically tread carefully around ads – this one appears to, at least, require you to press a button (many people say it didn’t, I don’t know.) but once it’s installed it becomes the launcher and effectively can do whatever it wants because it controls the phone now.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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