Android Developers Warned to Remove Third-Party Ad Fraud SDKs from Apps

Alfred Osborne
December 9, 2018

The Google Play Install Referrer API recommended by Google to developers who previously used one of the three ad network SDKs found to exhibit install attribution fraud behavior was created to be resistant to this type of ad fraud.

According to an Android Developers blog, Google Play Services just dropped support for API levels 14 and 15, which means the end of Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Google announced today it will no longer support Google Play Services on the OS, meaning apps may stop working and updates won't be as frequent as they once were.

These monthly updates normally fix potential vulnerabilities for devices running Android 9, but this month's update has specific patches for Pixel phones in addition to the normal security updates.

Google recommends targeting API level 16 as the minimum supported level to use the newer SDK. Those older versions keep continuing to lose their place when it comes to the distribution chart, and it seems that Ice Cream Sandwich has found its turn. Which means that, for those devices that run on ICS, Google Play Store will no longer update the Play Services APK, beyond 14.7.99 version.

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Google is said to remove all 22 malicious apps from the Play Store during the week of November 25.

The newest apps discovered to be malicious had a so-called "device-draining backdoor" that allowed them to download files from a server controlled by the attacker. It came together with Galaxy Nexus and it was one of the most changes of the design language as Google. It's unclear how many developers will take the company up on that idea due to the relatively small market share for Android 4.0 devices.

Google warned developers to remove the BatMobi, AltaMob, and YeahMobi third-party ad network SDKs which use install attribution abuse techniques while recommending the use of the Google Play Install Referrer API for measuring app install ads. Andrea has written for several major publications including Buzz Feed and the Huffington Post.

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