Security experts Trend Micro are sounding the alarm about fake Android apps used to spread mobile malware. These fake apps are designed to closely resemble popular and safe apps with logos and interfaces that look very similar to the real thing.
Trend Micro looked at the top 50 free apps in the Google Play store and found that fake versions have been created for 77% of them. They mimic everything from social to games to productivity apps.
They found fake versions of 100% of the most popular widgets, media & video and finance apps. A whopping 90% of apps under business, music and weather apps were recreated by scammers and nearly 70% of games, books and wallpapers.
You find these apps in third-party app stores. Those are sites not affiliated with the Google Play store that you can get apps. Not all third-party app stores distribute malicious apps, but some do.
Some of these malicious apps can do things like sign you up for premium services or steal your data, while other just add mobile ad software to push ads to you. Some of these fake apps are hacked versions of real apps, designed to generate income for the hackers and not for the original developers of an app. But Trend Micro found that the majority of these app contained high-risk harmful. You can read Trend Micro’s full report here.
Alarmingly, the most common fake apps are rogue antivirus apps that pretend to be programs such as Bitdefender. These fake apps even pretend to do scans and remove infections.
There’s less likelihood of this happening in the Google Play Store because Google has a rule that doesn’t allow new apps that are too similar to existing apps to be placed in their store, although there have been cases of fake apps sneaking through.
It’s best to get apps for you device only from official app stores and to install a mobile security program on your device.