Apps with adware and more security news

85 apps found with adware on Google Play, Windows introduces reserve storage, and Neiman Marcus settles its 2013 data breach.

Beware the adware

Google Play has removed 85 fake apps from their store this week, all of them found to contain similar adware. Many of the apps claimed to be video channels or racing games, but by far the most popular was “Easy Universal TV Remote,” which had been downloaded over 5 million times. Together, all 85 fakes apps have been downloaded over 9 million times by users around the world.

Cybersecurity researchers discovered the adware family and tested every one of the 85 apps, finding little difference in the behavior of the malicious code. Once the fake app is installed and opened, it immediately displays a full-screen ad. When that ad is closed, the fake home screen of the app is shown with its call-to-action button (START, PLAY, etc.). Tapping the button triggers another full-screen ad. When that ad is closed, more app-related buttons are displayed, each triggering another full-screen ad. When that ad is closed, the fake app claims to be buffering, then it disappears, hiding its icon from the home screen. It then continues to run in the background, popping up full-screen ads on the device at regular intervals. Some of the apps also were found to monitor home screen action, popping up ads as soon as the device is unlocked.

Windows pulls 7GB for storage

In its next large rollout of Windows 10, Microsoft is issuing a fix to a problem that originated with its October 2018 update — namely, Windows Update not checking first if there is enough storage on the computer to handle its updates. The “fix” may not be good news to users with low-memory systems, however, because it entails reserving 7GB of the system’s own disk space to be used solely for update installation.

Currently, if the user’s computer does not have enough storage, Windows will install the updates anyway, but then display an error message upon relaunch. The reserved storage feature will allow all updates to install smoothly without error. Windows will also use the reserved storage space for temporary files. While users won’t be able to remove the reserved storage feature, they will be able to adjust the amount of storage reserved.

Data breach costs Neiman Marcus $1.5M

A data breach that occurred in 2013 at Neiman Marcus was finally settled, and the retailer will be paying out to about 40 states a sum total of $1.5 million. In addition, the company must adhere to a code of stricter security standards in its handling of customer payment info. The breach had occurred over the course of several months and involved 77 Neiman Marcus department stores. About 370,000 payment cards are believed to have been compromised, with at least 9,200 of them having reportedly been used fraudulently.

“While $4 per payment card compromised may seem insignificant,” explains Avast security evangelist Luis Corrons, “the total cost of a hack like this usually is much bigger. For example, the data breach suffered by Target that same year affected 40 million credit and debit cards, and the settlement was $18.5 million. However, Target recognized that the total cost of the data breach has been a staggering $202 million.”

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