NCC Warns Against ‘HiddenAds’ Malware, Says It Jeopardises Users’ Privacy


The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned the public of a new malware — HiddenAds, which is capable of affecting device performance and jeopardizing users’ privacy.

Reuben Muoka, NCC’s director of public affairs, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.

According to the statement, the computer security incidents response team (CSIRT) set up by the commission, said the virus was first identified by the McAfee Mobile Research Team, as high in probability and damage potential.

“Upon installation, it can run malicious services without the user opening the app. It also spams the user with irrelevant advertisements. The apps have received downloads ranging from 100,000 to over a million,” the statement reads.

NCC Warns Against ‘HiddenAds’ Malware, Says It Jeopardises Users’ Privacy

“Some of the apps HiddenAds masquerades as are: Junk Cleaner, EasyCleaner, Power Doctor, Carpet Clean, Super Clean, Meteor Clean, Strong Clean, Windy Clean, Fingertip Cleaner, Keep Clean, Full Clean – Clean Cache, Quick Cleaner, and Cool Clean.

“When a user installs any of the aforementioned apps, whether the user has opened the app or not, a malicious service is immediately installed on the device. The app will then attempt to blend into the app tray by changing its icon to the Google Play icon that every android user is familiar with. Its name will also change to ‘Google Play’ or ‘setting’.

“The device will then be bombarded with ads in a variety of deceptive ways, severely impairing the user experience.”

NCC further said anyone that installs the compromised app will experience their device performance suffering significantly.

It added that “clicking on the ads may result in stealth downloads and installation of other malware, users may inadvertently subscribe to services and be billed on a monthly basis, and the privacy of users will be jeopardised”.

The commission further disclosed that where the malicious app’s icon and name have changed, it can be identified by the fact that it is removable while the legitimate Google Play app cannot be uninstalled.

The NCC-CSIRT, therefore, advised users to avoid downloading questionable apps or apps they are unsure about while those who have installed any of the identified malicious apps should immediately delete them.

The commission also recommended the installation of anti-virus or anti-malware software with a proven track record for detecting and removing malware.