Google Suspends 'Zombie' Apps Following Forensiq Report

Among the Suspended Apps: Celebrity Baby and Vampire Doctor

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Numerous apps have been suspended from Google's Play store following a report about malicious mobile apps that were defrauding advertisers out of nearly a billion dollars a year.

The information was released by ad-fraud firm Forensiq, which detailed how unscrupulous developers had created so-called zombie apps that were available on the Google Play store.

The apps -- which run constantly in the background on smart phones -- can consume gigabytes of data, severely drain battery life and run more than 16,000 advertisements in a single day without the user's knowledge.

A Google spokeswoman confirmed that several apps were taken down, but declined to provide further details or a specific number. Among the suspended apps: Celebrity Baby and Vampire Doctor. Ad Age attempted to contact the makers of those apps on Wednesday, but the email addresses listed in the Play store came back as invalid.

Forensiq CEO David Sendroff said he was thrilled about Google's response to the news.

"I would imagine that Google saw the news, installed the apps themselves to monitor what was happening and took action," Sendroff said. "It feels really great to create such awareness and I think everyone just wants to have a clean ecosystem in regards to the [Play] store."

Mike Zaneis, exec VP and general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said the Forensiq report is "groundbreaking."

"It explores the impact in the mobile space when before the focus was on display advertising," Mr. Zaneis said. "This is the next frontier for criminals. As the money and ad dollars flow toward the mobile space, criminals are going to go there. They are following the money."

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