Play Audio Adware
During their investigation into untrustworthy websites, infosec researchers uncovered the Play Audio browser extension. The extension is marketed as a convenient tool that allows users to listen to audio formats across the Web.
However, analysis of the application has revealed that it falls into the category of adware. Indeed, Play Audi'o's main purpose is to run intrusive advertising campaigns that disrupt the user experience. Additionally, adware and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) such as this one often collect sensitive user data, raising concerns about user privacy and security.
Adware Applications Like Play Audio may Carry Various Intrusive Capabilities
Adware refers to software that implements intrusive advertisement campaigns. These campaigns involve the display of advertisements on visited websites or other interfaces, often leading to a significantly diminished user experience.
The advertisements promoted by Play Audio or other adware are likely to lead to various tactics or promote unreliable or harmful PUPs. Some intrusive advertisements may go as far as initiating stealthy downloads or installations when clicked on by unsuspecting users.
Although legitimate products and services may occasionally be advertised through these channels, it is highly unlikely that their developers endorse such promotion methods. In most cases, these advertisements are propagated by fraudsters who exploit affiliate programs to obtain illegitimate commissions.
In addition to running intrusive ad campaigns, the Play Audio application also may engage in unauthorized surveillance of users' browsing activities. The targeted data can encompass a wide range of information, including browsing and search engine histories, Internet cookies, personally identifiable details, usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and more. The collected information can be sold to third parties or otherwise exploited for profit, further compromising user privacy and security.
Users Should be Vigilant When Installing Applications from Unproven Sources
PUPs and adware are intrusive and unreliable programs that rely heavily on dubious distribution techniques. Some of the more common tactics exploited by these types of applications include bundling, social engineering, malvertising, and rogue websites.
Bundling is one of the most frequently used tactics when it comes to spreading adware and PUPs. This involves attaching the promoted PUP to the installation process of a legitimate app, freeware, or shareware. When an unsuspecting user downloads the program, they are also downloading the additional files without their knowledge or consent. The attached items are often hidden and difficult for users to detect, making this method of distribution especially effective.
Social engineering is another popular technique used by hackers to spread PUPs and adware. In these scams, the promoted app impersonates a legitimate company or organization in order to gain access to personal information or trick users into installing unwanted software. Fraudsters may create fake websites that look identical to the real ones, offer free services or prizes in exchange for personal information, or use other deceptive tactics to gain access to a user's device.
Malvertising is another unsafe method used by con artists to spread PUPs and adware. This involves injecting intrusive code into legitimate online advertisements, which can then be displayed on various websites and applications. When users click on the advertisement, they unknowingly download the promoted adware, browser hijacker or PUP.
Rogue websites also may be used by fraudsters to distribute PUPs and adware. These sites typically offer free downloads that appear harmless but, in fact, are trying to trick users into downloading a promoted application. Additionally, rogue websites often feature advertisements that redirect users to other untrustworthy sites, further increasing the security and privacy risks faced by visitors.