Delete urgently: Android app takes over your cell phone without being asked

Deepak Gupta January 27, 2022
Updated 2022/01/27 at 6:20 AM

With every new operating system, the ways in which malicious software infiltrates your smartphone also advance. Some Android apps use particularly perfidious methods. For example, Weather Home doesn’t even need your permission to bypass the Google Play Store and claim important aspects of your phone as its own.

Weather Home…
… has now been downloaded more than five million times. It is unclear in how many cases users did this consciously. The Android app promises “free local weather forecasts and severe weather warnings right on your home screen”. But she doesn’t reveal what she changes on your cell phone for this.

Android app bypasses the Play Store

Google has often warned its users not to download Android apps outside of the Play Store. But what happens if such an application is installed without your consent? This is currently made possible by technology from DSP Digital Turbine (DT). Various users discuss this very case in the subreddit r/androiddev.

Angry users reported that the Wheather Home app was installed on their devices without consent. This happened after they tried to dismiss a pop-up ad.

What is DT Ignite?

Responsible for the “fun” is Digital Turbine (DT) Ignite. The program allows businesses, including various wireless carriers, to install Android apps without your knowledge.

Google Play: Digital Turbine is working on a fix

“It’s the same system used to install pre-installed applications on phones. The DT software is integrated directly into the phone firmware. Some manufacturers do this to participate in the advertising revenue, others do it because they z. For example, being asked to do so by a network operator who makes it mandatory for all their phones.”

u/omniuni (via Reddit)

But even that should not happen without the consent of the user. “The rep I spoke to seemed really concerned,” writes the developer, whose username is omniuni. It sounded like Digital Turbine was investigating internally how this could have happened. A solution to the problem is already in the works.

Uninstall Weather Home app

Open the Weather Home app page in the Google Play Store here. There you can uninstall the application manually. It may be necessary to restart your smartphone afterwards to get rid of the last remnants of the adware. Even in this case, it is possible that your browser will still be plagued by the unfamiliar layout. You can also fix this problem via the settings:

  1. Open your settings.
  2. Tap on the “Apps” tab.
  3. From there, look for the browser you want to rid of Weather Home.
  4. Now select “Force Stop” in the lower right corner.
  5. You may have to clear the cache in the browser itself.

German users are also affected

If you take a look at the Google Play Store, it quickly becomes clear that the Android app is not only up to mischief in the USA. It is reported, for example, that the application is completely moving the personal layout. The whole cell phone was “converted after installation,” says another comment.

“I don’t want to discuss whether such a mechanism exists intentionally or not, or what advantages it brings or not. Suffice it to say that installing apps from ads without the clear knowledge of the user is outrageous and undermines perceptions of the security of all Android devices, whether they are affected by this supposed backdoor or not.”

Anonymous (via Google Issue Tracker)

Sources: Reddit; Google Play Store; Google Issue Tracker; own research

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