Barcode Scanner App Removed From Play Store After It Turns Malicious

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Barcode Scanner, an app available on Google Play store for many years, has been removed from the app store after adware was detected. Malwarebytes says that users started to report of unruly ads opening via their default browser out of nowhere, and one forum users traced this unethical behaviour to Barcode Scanner, which enjoyed 10 million installs before being removed. Google delisted the app after it was made aware of this issue. Interestingly, Barcode Scanner was reportedly also a part of the tech-giant’s Play Pass program that offers paid subscribers perks like access to premium apps for free.

Malwarebytes, on its blog, reports that the users on its forums were reporting of a strange behaviour wherein the default browser on their phone was automatically opening a fishy-looking website asking them to install another ‘Cleaner app’ claiming bogus security issues. This unruly pop-up on their phone’s screen prompted users to report it and ultimately the culprit was traced to be Barcode Scanner. Google has since delisted the app, but it still remains installed on phones that downloaded it earlier. Android Police reports that Barcode Scanner was a part of the Google Play Pass programme earlier, meaning it was offered as a perk to premium subscribers.

For those who have this Barcode Scanner app on their phone, it is recommended that you uninstall it immediately. If you can’t see the app, but are experiencing the unruly browser issue, then download AppChecker and search for ‘barcode scanner’ to see if your phone has the app and then delete it. The result should have the package name “com.qrcodescanner.barcodescanner.”

The security firm says that Barcode Scanner was a simple app that later turned malicious, presumably after an update late last year. Specifically, an update rolled out on December 4 last year seems to have triggered the app to send adware on installed phones. Before that, the app was installed on handsets for years without any issue. The developer of the app at the time of removal was LavaBird Ltd.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to [email protected]
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