INTERNET security firm Kaspersky has warned app users that unwanted advertisements could result in data leakages.

In a statement emailed to reporters on Monday, Kaspersky said its researchers have found that “the number of applications capable of bombarding users with unwanted advertising is increasing on official marketplaces.”

It said Kaspersky researchers have discovered three new applications with “adware” modules on Google Play store “in a span of just three months, potentially affecting millions of users.”

Kaspersky defined adware as an “unwanted software that displays ads to users.”

It said adware has been one of the most popular non-virus threats for years.

“The monetization methods used in such software can pose a threat to users, and yet bring in more revenue for developers due to greater viewership, with the latter adopting new techniques in order to make such ad modules harder to detect by both users and cybersecurity technologies,” Kaspersky explained.

One of the adware-carrying applications discovered by Kaspersky researchers is an interactive questionnaire “with millions of downloads.” The company said the app used a post-installation delay before showing ads its researchers have also seen in other adware apps.

“This long delay from installation of the application to the first advertisement appearing made it much harder for the user to find the culprit for all the ads that suddenly appeared on the screen. This technique is frequently used to trick automatic protection mechanisms, such as sandboxes in app stores. The developer of the interactive questionnaire application promptly removed the adware module once informed,” it said.

Kaspersky also noted that adware-spreading is not done purposely, and even legitimate applications can end up distributing undesirable ads unintentionally.

“Most often this is due to the use of advertising software development kits (SDKs) and lack of testing an integrated advertising library. As a result, adware modules sneak into the final code of applications,” it explained.

Kaspersky Security Expert Igor Golovin was quoted as saying: “Nowadays, we heavily rely on our phones.”

“We work, share personal information and watch entertainment — all on our mobile devices. Obviously, this attracts adware creators’ attention. The problem here is that adware does not create usability inconveniences that frustrate users; it also — with improperly developed SDKs — could result in data leakages.”

He advised app users to use a reliable mobile security solution capable of preventing adware-carrying applications from invading their digital privacy. — Arjay L. Balinbin