Goldoson: Privacy-invasive and Clicker Android Adware found in popular apps in South Korea

Authored by SangRyol Ryu

McAfee’s Mobile Research Team discovered a software library we’ve named Goldoson, which collects lists of applications installed, a history of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices information, including nearby GPS locations. Moreover, the library is armed with to perform ad fraud by clicking advertisements in the background without user’s consent. The research team has found more than 60 applications containing this third-party malicious library, with more than 100 million downloads confirmed in the ONE store and Google Play app download markets in South Korea. While t

McAfee Mobile Security  detects this threat as Android/Goldoson and protects customers from this and many other mobile threats. McAfee is a member of the App Defense Alliance focused on protecting users by preventing threats from reaching their devices and improving app quality across the ecosystem.  We reported the discovered apps to Google, which took prompt action. Some apps were removed from Google Play while others were updated by the official developers. Users are encouraged to update the apps to the latest version to remove the identified threat from their devices.

Top 9 applications previously infected by Goldoson on Google Play

How does it affect users? 

The Goldoson library registers the device and gets remote configurations at the same time the app runs. The library name and the remote server domain varies with each application, and it is obfuscated. The name Goldoson is after the first found domain name. 

Mutating class names

Remote configuration contains the parameters for each of functionalities and it specifies how often it runs the components. Based on the parameters, the library periodically checks, pulls device information, and sends them to the remote servers. The tags such as ‘ads_enable’ or ‘collect_enable’ indicates each functionality to work or not while other parameters define conditions and availability. 

A response of remote configurationA response of remote configuration

The library includes the ability to load web pages without user awareness. The functionality may be abused to load ads for financial profit. Technically, the library loads HTML code and injects it into a customized and hidden WebView and it produces hidden traffic by visiting the URLs recursively. 

Pages loaded without user perceptionPages loaded without user perception

Collected data is sent out periodically every two days but the cycle is subject to change by the remote configuration. The information contains some sensitive data including the list of installed applications, location history, MAC address of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi nearby, and more. This may allow individuals to be identified when the data is combined. The following tables show the data observed on our test device. 

Collected Data sent out in JSON formatCollected Data sent out in JSON format

Google Play considers the list of installed apps to be personal and sensitive user data and requires a special permission declaration to get it. Users with Android 11 and above are more protected against apps attempting to gather all installed apps. However, even with the recent version of Android, we found that around 10% of the apps with Goldoson have the permission “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” that allows them to access app information. 

Likewise, with Android 6.0 or higher, users may be asked for permissions such as Location, Storage, or Camera at runtime. If user allows the location permission, the app can access not only GPS data but also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth device information nearby. Based on BSSID (Basic Service Set Identifier) and RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator), the application can determine the location of the device more accurately than GPS, especially indoors. 

A demo of runtime permission requestA demo of runtime permission request

Where do the apps come from?

The infected applications come from various android application stores. More than 100 million downloads have been tracked through Google Play. After that, ONE store, Korea’s leading app store, follows with about 8 million installations.


As applications continue to scale in size and leverage additional external libraries, it is important to understand their behavior. App developers should be upfront about libraries used and take precautions to protect users’ information.  McAfee Mobile Security products can also help detect threats and protect you from not only malware but also unwanted programs. For more information, visit our

Identified Apps and Goldoson Domains



List of Apps and Current Status

Package Name Application Name GooglePlay Downloads  GP
Status L.POINT with L.PAY 10M+  Updated**
com.Monthly23.SwipeBrickBreaker Swipe Brick Breaker 10M+ Removed**
com.realbyteapps.moneymanagerfree Money Manager Expense & Budget 10M+ Updated*
com.skt.tmap.ku TMAP – 대리,주차,전기차 충전,킥보 … 10M+ TBU*** 롯데시네마 10M+ Updated*
com.ktmusic.geniemusic 지니뮤직 – genie 10M+ Removed**
com.cultureland.ver2 컬쳐랜드[컬쳐캐쉬] 5M+ Updated*
com.gretech.gomplayerko GOM Player 5M+ Updated*
com.megabox.mop 메가박스(Megabox) 5M+ Removed** LIVE Score, Real-Time Score 5M+ Updated*
sixclk.newpiki Pikicast 5M+ Removed**
com.appsnine.compass Compass 9: Smart Compass 1M+ Removed**
com.gomtv.gomaudio GOM Audio – Music, Sync lyrics 1M+ Updated*
com.gretech.gomtv 곰TV – All About Video 1M+ Updated*
com.guninnuri.guninday 전역일 계산기 디데이 곰신톡-군인 … 1M+ Updated*
com.itemmania.imiapp 아이템매니아 – 게임 아이템 거래 … 1M+ Removed** LOTTE WORLD Magicpass 1M+ Updated*
com.Monthly23.BounceBrickBreaker Bounce Brick Breaker 1M+ Removed**
com.Monthly23.InfiniteSlice Infinite Slice 1M+ Removed**
com.pump.noraebang 나홀로 노래방-쉽게 찾아 이용하는 … 1M+ Updated*
com.somcloud.somnote SomNote – Beautiful note app 1M+ Removed**
com.whitecrow.metroid Korea Subway Info : Metroid 1M+ Updated* GOODTV다번역성경찬송 1M+ Removed** 해피스크린 – 해피포인트를 모으 … 1M+ Updated* UBhind: Mobile Tracker Manager 1M+ Removed** 스피드 운전면허 필기시험 … 1M+ Removed**
com.wtwoo.girlsinger.worldcup 이상형 월드컵 500K+ Removed** CU편의점택배 500K+ Removed**
com.appsnine.audiorecorder 스마트 녹음기 : 음성 녹음기 100K+ Removed** 캣메라 [순정 무음카메라] 100K+ Removed** 컬쳐플러스:컬쳐랜드 혜택 더하기 … 100K+ Updated*
com.dkworks.simple_air 창문닫아요(미세/초미세먼지/WHO … 100K+ Removed**
com.lotteworld.ticket.seoulsky 롯데월드타워 서울스카이 100K+ Updated*
com.Monthly23.LevelUpSnakeBall Snake Ball Lover 100K+ Removed**
com.nmp.playgeto 게토(geto) – PC방 게이머 필수 앱 100K+ Removed** 기억메모 – 심플해서 더 좋은 메모장 100K+ Removed** 풀빵 : 광고 없는 유튜브 영상 … 100K+ Removed**
com.realbyteapps.moneya Money Manager (Remove Ads) 100K+ Updated*
com.wishpoke.fanciticon Inssaticon – Cute Emoticons, K 100K+ Removed**
marifish.elder815.ecloud 클라우드런처 100K+ Updated*
com.dtryx.scinema 작은영화관 50K+ Updated*
com.kcld.ticketoffice 매표소-뮤지컬문화공연 예매& … 50K+ Updated*
com.lotteworld.ticket.aquarium 롯데월드 아쿠아리움 50K+ Updated*
com.lotteworld.ticket.waterpark 롯데 워터파크 50K+ Updated*
com.skt.skaf.l001mtm091 T map for KT, LGU+ 50K+ Removed**
org.howcompany.randomnumber 숫자 뽑기 50K+ Updated*
com.aog.loader 로더(Loader) – 효과음 다운로드 앱 10K+ Removed** GOM Audio Plus – Music, Sync l 10K+ Updated*
com.NineGames.SwipeBrickBreaker2 Swipe Brick Breaker 2 10K+ Removed**
com.notice.safehome 안심해 – 안심귀가 프로젝트 10K+ Removed**
kr.thepay.chuncheon 불러봄내 – 춘천시민을 위한 공공  … 10K+ Removed**
com.curation.fantaholic 판타홀릭 – 아이돌 SNS 앱 5K+ Removed**
com.dtryx.cinecube 씨네큐브 5K+ Updated*
com.p2e.tia.tnt TNT 5K+ Removed** 베스트케어-위험한 전자기장, … 1K+ Removed**
com.ninegames.solitaire InfinitySolitaire 1K+ Removed**
com.notice.newsafe 안심해 : 안심지도 1K+ Removed**
com.notii.cashnote 노티아이 for 소상공인 1K+ Removed**
com.tdi.dataone TDI News – 최초 데이터 뉴스 앱 … 1K+ Removed**
com.ting.eyesting 눈팅 – 여자들의 커뮤니티 500+ Removed**
com.ting.tingsearch 팅서치 TingSearch 50+ Removed** 츄스틱 : 크리샤츄 Fantastic 50+ Removed**
com.player.yeonhagoogokka 연하구곡 10+ Removed**

* Updated means that the recent application on Google Play does not contain the malicious library.

** Removed means the application is not available on Google Play as of the time of posting.




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