Over the last several months there has been a significant increase in use of ad networks by app developers wishing to earn some cash from their creations. In most cases this is not a problem, ad networks are a legitimate method for app develops to make a living.  However, there is a side effect to ad networks being combined with mobile networks.  The consequences quickly become apparent after a short period of time…Mobile adware, or madware.

Adware On Mobile Devices

Adware on mobile devices is extremely annoying.  One of the irritating methods done by ad networks is to put a handful of apparently unconnected icons on your device. If you have ever installed an application and had that happen, that is one example of madware.  These icons are usually a shortcut to a search site or the website of the app developer.  Another example of madware, one that is slightly more annoying, are the icons and alarms that can constantly appear in the notification bar at the top of the screen. These alerts look very authentic, and at times it is hard to distinguish between these and the genuine ones.

There is a potentially malicious element with these ad networks.  When you install an application there is a request for permissions that can be very intrusive.  In some cases it is for your location so they can send ads specific to your region or location, these requests are not too bad.  However, some ad networks do not stop there, some are gathering personal data, or retrieving contact databases from devices.

In this day and age when more and more children are getting smartphones at younger ages the download of madware is something we want to avoid.  Children download apps and many of those apps may be infected with madware.

Here are some very interesting facts:

  • According to Norton research, 24 percent of all free apps make money by displaying ads, an increase of 31 percent from nine months ago.
  • Forty-nine percent of all free apps that display ads within the app use madware.
  • Apps that include madware grew by 210 percent from nine months ago.
  • Norton noticed a 50 percent increase in total permissions required by free gaming apps over the past year. This means, for example, that apps are more frequently collecting location coordinates, allowing SMS messages to be sent without consent and installing desktop shortcuts.
  • The average app contains two ad networks but some contain as many as 17.
  • Lesser known apps can bring big madware annoyances. Less popular apps (less than 250,000 installs) are 135 percent more likely to contain the worst forms of madware.
  • With these seemingly harmless downloads can come madware (mobile adware) and it proves to be the Trojan Horse of Android’s security. Linking itself to common apps like Angry Birds, Sam’s Club and Flashlight, madware gains access to your personal information, location, settings, and frequently delivers advertising inappropriately.
So what can you do to prevent madware?  One sure way to take care of the problem is to download the free app Norton Spot. Norton Spot is not only an ad blocker, but also a detector, killer and stopper.  It will identify apps that invade your privacy and remove them. This app will also monitor for intrusive alerts and block aggressive mobile advertising practices.
Here is an infographic that really illustrates how madware affects an Android.

madware infographic So what are you waiting for?  Get rid of those annoying ads and protect your privacy today.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Norton. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.