Play Store’s problems related to malicious applications aren’t something new as news involving fake and malicious apps come out on a regular basis. Recently, researchers from University of Sydney have discovered over 2,000 fake apps on the Play Store after they analyzed over one million apps.
According to the researchers, these fakes are hiding in plain sight in the store and trick users to download them by mimicking popular apps. During the experiment, the researchers used AI to identify the apps before testing them for malware and vulnerabilities. Unsurprisingly, the apps which were impersonating the other popular applications contained malware. Additionally, the researchers found that although some of the apps didn’t contain any malware, these ask users to give access to sensitive data.
“In an open app ecosystem like Google Play the barrier to entry is low so it’s relatively easy for fake apps to infiltrate the market, leaving users at risk of being hacked,” said Dr. Suranga Seneviratne.
While the process for avoiding the malicious applications is pretty simple, the researchers emphasized on following the processes once again. They said that in order to protect yourselves from downloading these apps, make sure the app is released on the platform. Often times, the attackers release apps which are most likely iOS exclusive. As a result, always check if the companies responsible for developing the apps released the app to both platforms.
Moreover, prior to download, the researchers recommend that you go through the app description to check for any potential red flag. For instance, an application mimicking another popular app would contain similar developer information but will be released more recently compared to the original app. Moreover, do not download apps from third-party websites and always download the apps from your country’s app store to remain on the safer side.