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Bitdefender's App Anomaly Detection on Android Shines a Light on New Threats


August 25, 2023

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Bitdefender's App Anomaly Detection on Android Shines a Light on New Threats

App Anomaly Detection is an industry-first, real-time, behavior-based layer of protection added to Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android that's already beginning to show great results and promises to dramatically improve the user experience on this platform.

The introduction of an industry-first technology usually yields interesting results, and that's exactly what happened with the addition of App Anomaly Detection into Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android. Attackers now have a much more difficult time hiding because the app's actions themselves will betray its bad intentions.

The new technology works by analyzing the behavior of applications after they’re installed. This is important because criminals go to great lengths to hide their intentions, which includes ensuring that apps remain dormant for long periods before acting out, pushing updates that turn a legitimate app into a threat, and even leveraging zero-day vulnerabilities to compromise a device.

Your actions tell everybody who you are

If this is true for people, it's definitely true for apps. The way an app behaves in the background can quickly reveal its real intentions, even if it started out as a seemingly legitimate application.

One of the first things we discovered right after turning on the switch is that people willingly download a lot of adware and potential malware with no initial tricks. Many Android users look for pirated apps, full games, cracks and similar software.

The reality is that most content found on the first page of results of any Internet search is chock full of malicious apps. There are no cracked games or full apps waiting around for someone to download them. It's all just a ruse to trick people into downloading fake Android apps that, at the very least, will install a hard-to-remove full-screen ad system.

It's not just ads, it's so much worse

Our research showed that many of these fake apps are actually adware in disguise. They're likely being produced by the tens of thousands in an automated way to give the illusion of different versions and iterations.

The adware itself is aggressive, cleverly hides from the user, and is difficult to remove. In fact, the adware won't even manifest itself in the first few weeks, but instead stay hidden. However, once it tries to do anything on the users' device, like showing a full-screen ad, the App Anomaly Detection technology will quickly inform users about the dangers.

After enabling App Anomaly on all Android devices running Bitdefender Mobile Security, we noticed many other types of malware floating around are much more dangerous. People try to install apps containing riskware, a variety of threats that can steal all kinds of information from devices, and they're also trying to install banking trojans.

Even worse, some of the apps caught by App Anomaly Detection contain banking trojans that can steal financial data, log keystrokes, take screenshots and more.

Also, one particular trend we've seen is the proliferation of stalkerware, a dangerous type of app used by people to spy on children or spouses.

For the most part, users believe they are actually installing legitimate apps. In reality, they only share a name with the originals. Third-party stores and websites are full of these fake applications, making them one of the main distribution venues.

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android integrates App Anomaly Detection for free and adds a new layer of security that can't be found anywhere else in the industry.




Silviu is a seasoned writer who followed the technology world for almost two decades, covering topics ranging from software to hardware and everything in between.

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