Friday, December 2, 2011
Unwanted ads in rogue apps
You may have seen a LOT of advertisements, on a LOT of websites, about AirPush. AirPush "pushes" (inserts) different types of advertisements to users, advertisements that generate revenue for the developer that included the pay-per-install code (by AirPush) into the application. Then, the developer gets paid every time one thousand impressions are made (1 impression is made when one user has seen an advertisement; so it takes one thousand views for the developer to get paid around $6 - $40 - depending on where the users have seen the ads from; according to AirPush).
Usually, you'll see this method (AirPush's pay-per-install) applied in rogue applications, stolen from the original developer and uploaded to the Android Market with the same name, just from a different developer account. Basically, a guy downloads an application, inserts pay-per-install code into it and then uploads it as his own. This is what happened with ElectricSleep, an application developed by Jon Willis. The rogue application has been removed from the Market, but the infringer's account is still up, so he could do this again anytime.
You can defend yourself from these rogue applications (that not only shows you unwanted advertisements, but may also contain malware that tracks your location and what you're doing on the phone) by either having a look at the Permissions Access (if it's asking for GPS or such) or by installing AirPush Detector (which does what the name says). AirPush Detector scans installed applications and lets you know which ones have built-in AirPush, LeadBolt, Appenda and IAC code. The app does NOT block the ads, it just lets you know which apps that you have installed contain that kind of advertisements.
As it says in the description of AirPush Detector, you should get Addons Detector instead. "It's pretty much better in every way besides not being open source", as the developer says about Addons Detector, in AirPush Detector's description.
I have tried AirPush Detector and only one application has been detected : Filkie Wallpapers HD, which is not a rogue application, but a very nice one. Addons Detector has detected 16, including paid apps that I know can't have ads. Then, I figured that I can filter the list by advertising, analytics, developer tools etc. It's pretty handy. So, if you want to use AirPush Detector, I'd suggest you use Addons Detector instead.