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Android has at least 68 fraudulent apps that exploit user trust: Symantec

It is a known thing that most apps on Google Play Store are not safe for distribution, but these particular apps can really harm your device.

  • Updated: August 20, 2018 12:55 PM IST

Google’s Android operating system is known for hosting apps that sell aggressive ads as part of free adware license. While some play quietly on the side of the screen, others are known for being aggressive in their approach, and often end up popping on the main screen.

This kind of behavior has been found to be malicious and result in obnoxious behavior on users’ device. Now, Symantec has discovered that there are at least 68 such fraudulent apps listed on the Google Play Store. It says these apps are being developed by five different developers, and contain aggressive advertisements. The report by security platform shows that these apps promise one thing on their app description page, but fail to offer actual functionalities.

Android users who download these fraudulent apps end up only wasting time watching advertisements. “Users do not get what they signed up for,” Symantec says in its report. The firm found a huge discrepancy between app content and its description or title. “We found a number of apps on Google Play developed by EpicOmegaApps, which may look legitimate at first blush, since these come complete with an app title, description, and screenshots attached,” the report adds.

According to Symantec, all 11 apps developed by EpicOmegaApps were published in December 2017, and each of these apps have an installation base ranging from 50 to 50,000. One app from the developer named SIM Unlocker promises to unlock SIM cards so users can use any other SIM network operator. It also distributes an app called Remote Mouse Pro, which claims to convert the user’s phone into a wireless mouse.

“After users install the apps, they are subjected to a series of guided screens, with advertisements popping up at every single Next button pressed. However, despite the detailed descriptions for the apps, they provide none of the described functionalities.”

Those who have installed these apps have complaints about their fraudulent behavior, and have expressed the same via reviews for these apps. Another developer named Pinwheel, has published at least 40 apps that can be identified as fraudulent apps. The developer is tapping to user behavior by naming the apps after popular games and movies such as Far Cry, and 13 Reasons Why.

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When launched, these apps show users only an image with aggressive advertisement pop-ups and users generally do not know that the image displayed is not an actual splash screen but rather a static image. Google has not confirmed if it is taking action against these apps. However, if you have downloaded apps from EpicOmegaApps or Pinwheel then it is recommended to uninstall them immediately. “We remove applications that violate our policies, such as apps that are illegal or that promote hate speech. We don’t comment on individual applications; you can check out our policies for more information,” a Google spokesperson said in email response.

It is also recommended that you keep your Android phone updated, and do not download apps from unfamiliar sources. Also, install apps only from sources that you trust and read request for permissions before granting them to any app.

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  • Published Date: August 17, 2018 2:50 PM IST
  • Updated Date: August 20, 2018 12:55 PM IST