Google has removed 22 apps from the Play Store that together have had over 2 million downloads. The most popular being Sparkle, an Android flashlight. The apps seem to work as described. However in the back ground they are clicking on ads which generates revenue for the advertisers.
Not only does this slow down your phone, use up battery power and is just down right annoying, but it also is fraudulent. Companies pay online advertisers only when someone clicks on their ad. The idea is if the advertiser does their job and places the online ad in the right locations, then a click on the ad should lead to a sale.
That is what companies think they are paying for, potential customers. Instead this app acts as a bot, clicking on ads thousands of times and raking up the charges for the company. The company receives nothing in return as bots aren’t big shoppers.
What should you do if you have an Android phone? First of all, check the list of affected apps to see if you have downloaded one of them. You can find the list in the Sophos article. Then uninstall the app. As an extra precaution you can perform a full factory reset.
Although downloading apps from reputable sources reduces the chances of you downloading something malicious, it does not guarantee it. Remember to check reviews for an app before you download it. If you find a reduction in your phones performance after the download, uninstall the app. If it continues then perform a factory reset.