Fake Apps Troubling Android Users - Study

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By Kalyan Kumar | July 18, 2014 3:23 PM EST

Smartphone users especially the Android users are facing the menace of millions of fake apps chasing them, reports IDG News. Disguised as official apps they are targeting mostly Android users, according to a study by Japan based Trend Micro.

REUTERS
A man uses his mobile phone in front of a giant advertisement promoting Samsung Electronics' new Galaxy S5 smartphone, at an art hall in central Seoul, in this file picture taken April 15, 2014.

Trend Micro looked at the top 50 free apps in Google's Play Store and found that fake versions were existing for almost 77 percent of the apps.

Anti Virus Firm

Trend Micro is an antivirus and anti-malware software maker. It catalogued 890,482 fake apps in which half of them were malicious and 59,185 were aggressive adware with 3,94,263 of being malware.

Dangerous Payload

The fake apps look similar to the real ones with functions being the same but it carries a dangerous extra payload, noted JD Sherry, vice president of technology and solutions at Trend Micro.

Fake Antivirus

The most common type of fake app was posing as antivirus software targeting users by feigning to protect them from dangerous apps. In some cases, the apps ask users to approve administrator privileges to gain a wider access to the phone's software and data thereby making it difficult to remove. Many of the fake apps exist on forums or third-party app stores where the security is relatively lax.

Case of Virus Shield

The Trend Micro highlighted the example of a rogue antivirus app known as Virus Shield receiving a 4.7-star rating and getting downloaded by more than 10,000 times charging $3.99 for each download promising to check harmful apps.

Though Google removed it, that could fool thousands of users to become a top new paid app in the Play Store. Trend in its report wonders how the app achieved the top status.

Targeting Android Market Place

The Trend Micros report was released the day Google formed a security team to go after "zero-day" exploits in software where in attackers target users before software companies can issue the patches. Sherry said it is high time Google took aim at the Android marketplace and Google Play.

How to be Safe?

According to William Mann of Wetech Blog, to stay safe from fake apps the best thing to do is -avoiding unnecessary app downloads. If it is necessary then take time to conduct a little research by searching the name of the app in Google or Bing. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji/Files)
A man uses his mobile phone in front of a giant advertisement promoting Samsung Electronics' new Galaxy S5 smartphone, at an art hall in central Seoul, in this file picture taken April 15, 2014.
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