Malware and adware apps are becoming the bane of Google’s life. In recent weeks alone several nasty Android malware apps were uncovered. There was the data-stealing MobSTSPY malware that infecting at least 100,000 in 196 countries. The sneaky Android malware that robbed users with fake PayPal alerts. Google removed 85 adware apps recently. The apps, which showed users full-screen ads pretty much nonstop, had been downloaded over nine million times.
And if you thought iOS was safe, think again. It’s nothing on the same scale, but in recent weeks 14 iPhone apps were talking to a known malware server. The apps were not super popular, but for a company that is pitting itself as the security king, it’s deeply concerning.
Cleaning up the app stores is a tough job and as with most tough jobs in Silicon Valley, algorithms are often left to do it. They’re not doing a great job. You just have to look at WhatsApp Gold, the recent fake version of WhatsApp that thousands of people downloaded within a few days, leaving malware on their device and the personal data compromised.
We predict that 2019 will see a hike in these device killers as hackers create more and more fake apps with the sole purpose of infecting your smartphone. They want your personal data, they want to show you annoying ads all day long. If your device gets infected, it’s no fun and, as highlighted above, you can’t trust the app stores to protect you. Like all areas of online life, when downloading apps, you need to be vigilant.
Here are some tips for keeping fake apps off your device.
- App name
Copycat apps are perhaps the favorite way for malware to creep into your phone, but no two apps can have the same name. Carefully check the name of the app. In a malicious app, some detail will be different. There’s an extra letter or a missing one, the logo seems a little off, is it the color? Whatever it is, one tiny difference to the human eye can mean all the difference in coding terms.
- Company search
The name of the company is another indicator. Official companies have well-crafted profiles and websites, social media pages, email addresses, and they respond to requests. You can do an internet search of their name and get pages of legit results. If you do a search of their name and get pages of Reddit users talking about their scam, well, that’s not a good app to download.
- User feedback
Okay, so the review section of Google Play isn’t really a love in for app users to lament developers. No matter how good the app there will always be a few lukewarm reviews, but if an app has nothing but one-star reviews and disgruntled customers, stay clear of downloading it.
- Google Play Protect
Google Play Protect is a Google developed antivirus for Android and it helps in detecting if an app is fake or not. In the Play Store on your device you click on the menu and go to Play Protect. From there enable Play Protect to ‘Scan device for security threats’ and ‘Improve harmful app detection’. It’s not full proof but it’s a good tool to have in your fake app seeking kit.
In the meantime, download get2Clouds on your device. It’s ad free, cost free and gives you security in messaging, file sharing and more.