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Watch Out for Fake Apps

Several “fake” apps have made their way to the Play Store and App Store. The security experts at Symantec stated that in 2015, “3.3 million mobile apps were classified as malware.” Mobile device users cannot assume that all apps are safe and must protect themselves from these fraudulent attempts to steal their identity, email, and credit card information, supporting platforms to attack other mobile device users, or even using their data plan bandwidth and locking them out of their phone.

How to Spot Fake Apps?

One of the first things users can do to check whether an app is fake or real is to check the publisher of the app. Generally, fake apps emerge from sources that use big brand names but with different spellings or minor differences. As the names are so similar, consumers have a hard time differentiating between a fake and a real app. Users can also check the ratings and reviews to judge the legitimacy of an app. A fake app has usually none or very few reviews with a relatively new publishing date, whereas real apps receive reviews from authentic users and original ratings.

Another feature to look out for is the writing. If you find numerous mistakes and typos in the app description, do some research about the publisher or app before downloading it. The names of these phony apps are frequently misspelled or a little off-brand. Pay close attention to results in the App Store before downloading anything. The first few results are usually the culprits as some fake apps have employed Apple’s paid search ads to attain good search position.

Since these apps don’t have malicious code, the algorithms provided by Google and Apple via their app stores do not prevent consumers from accessing them. However, they are not real apps and do not serve the purpose they promise in the description. This is the reason why Google and Apple have a hard time resisting these bogus apps.

The Big Lure of Mobile Shopping

Although store-specific apps were initially rejected since they offer no real value, they are now more popular than ever owing to several loyalty programs offered by these apps. Any user who wishes to benefit from reward points, discounts, and gift cards through apps would love to download these supposedly beneficial apps. Real apps from reputed names, such as McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, have successfully attracted new and retained old customers through their mobile presence. However, this has also made the way for fake publishers to come up with similar apps with a hidden motive.

Interestingly, a plethora of these fake apps are emerging from China. The telltale signs include no reviews, mediocre English, and no record of previous versions are usually trademark characteristics of a fake app. Sadly, consumers are willingly sharing their email and credit card info with spammers, scammers, and hackers through these apps. The New York Times traced a company named Cloaker Apps that is responsible for developing several of the infamous fake apps. Cloaker’s website indicates it is situated at an address in Menlo Park, California, which is in the middle of Facebook’s campus.

Jack Lin, who heads the business, revealed that although his company develops apps, they fail to do any assessment to check a clients’ legitimacy. Consumers and app developers all need to be watchful to spot and report any fake app for their protection. Here are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe from fake apps:

  • Be cautious before downloading an app
  • Check for reviews before you click download
  • Be vigilant about the apps with no, few, or bad reviews
  • Do not click on a link in any email. If you must follow any link, do so from a retailer’s official site to reach a legit app on Google Play or App Store
  • Do not share personal and email information on a relatively new app
  • Think twice before linking your credit card to any app

What You Should Do

Fake apps appear to be legitimate retail store apps. However, when users install them, the criminals can steal all their personal information, or trigger Trojans that penetrate their confidential information from mobile devices.

At Garner IT, we strive to help you stay safe and not fall victim to any fake apps. Our seasoned IT professionals offer the best customized solutions possible to resolve all your problems. Call 850.250.3210 or drop by our offices at 1330 Harrison Avenue, Panama City/Bay County, Florida to learn how we can help you accomplish more and take your business to new heights. We are here to cater to all your business needs.

Best wishes, Randall and Julie Garner and the entire Garner IT team of professionals.

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