StartApp - new kind of scummy advertising on Android

As if AirPush wasn't bad enough, there is yet another scammy advertising platform in the Android world -  StartApp. Apps with StartApp will add a bookmark to your browser, and install a widget like this on the home screen:

(image source: TechCrunch)

With a generic search icon, it will surely fool unsuspecting users into using its likely scammy search services. The site looks they cloned Google's look, and filled it up with advertising based on your search terms. With AirPush, it's easy to tell who's doing this by downloading AirPush Detector - lucky for me, StartApp's bookmark did not encrypt any information at all. Here is the full URL:


By decoding this base64 text we get:

  "Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.7; en-us; HTC Vision Build/GRI40) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1",
 "phoneModel"=>"HTC Vision",
 "request_timestamp"=>"Sat Dec 17 09:57:02 PST 2011",

These scumbags are not only trying to hijack people's search, but also sending this information essentially in cleartext, every time someone does a search using their widget button or bookmark. In case anyone was wondering, the offending app that I had installed was Place the Box.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, so you installed a game and got some bonus Bloat / Trickware! That is pretty scummy. The last thing Android needs is crap like this.

    This is what happens when you create an awesome platform with lots of potential. Scumbags figure out how to use that potential to alienate their customers.