Judy is said to have been downloaded between 4.5 million and 18.5 million times, meaning the total spread of the malware may have reached between 8.5 and 36.5 million users. These apps typically spanned the casual cooking and fashion games categories, under the "Judy" brand, the name that has now also been conferred on the malware now.
As per reports, Judy malware was found embedded in as many as 41 apps on Google Play, and as such represents a serious error on the part of the company's screening process of allowing apps on its platform. However, the apps finding safe harbour on Android's play store for moret than a year does raise some serious questions about the security of the OS.
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"Users can not rely on the official app stores for their safety, and should implement advanced security protections capable of detecting and blocking zero-day mobile malware", CheckPoint adds. Once the user downloads the malicious apps, the malware manages to connect to the server, which delivers the malicious payload. The infected devices will send out signals to the home server, and then clicks are made to a URL that was put there to generate the fake ad revenue.
To make matters worse, the apps are available in the official Google Play Store.
After this, Judy opened the malicious URL that imitated a PC browser in a hidden web page.
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Once the malicious code is installed on the user's device, the JS code finds out the advertisements on the app and clicks on them.
The bridgehead app is created to look legitimate and to bypass Google Bouncer, the gatekeeper that reviews suspicious content on Google Play. Some are free and some offer yearly subscription rates that sometimes include protection for multiple devices.
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