Google has removed approximately 300 apps from its platform for giving people the ability to conduct distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, a cyber weapon oft-used in recent months and years.
Many of the aforementioned apps appear to be innocuous, with features like ringtones and video streaming, but are actually ways for devices to become hijacked by virtual assaults, Gizmodo reports.
Google was able to identify the ostensibly harmless, but potentially nefarious, apps through the help of multiple internet infrastructure firms.
“We identified approximately 300 apps associated with the issue, blocked them from the Play Store, and we’re in the process of removing them from all affected devices,” a Google representative told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “The researchers’ findings, combined with our own analysis, have enabled us to better protect Android users, everywhere.”
DDoS attacks occur when perpetrators infiltrate and take internet-connected devices hostage and subsequently direct them and the respective unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (the numerical label assigned to every device) to targeted online systems, completely inundating them in the process. The online systems become so overwhelmed that they are essentially rendered defective, which can cause catastrophic consequences. A massive cyber attack initiated through a DDoS operation in May affected several countries around the world, causing turmoil in U.K. hospitals, among other institutions, by delaying emergency care treatment for certain patients.
Some of the detected apps are embedded with hidden malware. If a device hosts that app, then as long as it’s turned on it could be used as one of the many computer systems directing traffic in a DDoS attack. The group of cybersecurity researchers estimate that the virus can be found on smartphones in roughly 100 countries, according to Gizmodo. (RELATED: There Are At Least 170 Million Internet-Connected Devices Susceptible To Hacking In The U.S.)
The move by Google, and the findings by the larger coalition, shows that even premiere app stores are not impervious to nefarious software that can harm not only the infected device, but also the targeted system or systems.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill in early August to ensure that the government’s technical infrastructure is properly protected against hacking, including DDoS attacks.
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