Tip of the Week: Spotting Fake Apps on the Google Play Store
Mobile devices have countless uses, all of which enable users to get the most out of them. But what if all of your efforts at finding the best applications for the job are wasted on finding a fraudulent app on the Google Play Store? Believe it or not, the Google Play Store has its fair share of malware available for download in all types of disguises. Here are a few tips to help you avoid installing them in the first place.
You might be wondering how it’s even possible that Google’s quality control manages to miss so many of these apps. Here’s how.
How These Apps Make it to the Play Store
It’s clear that Google understands just how important security is, so it’s a bit concerning that malware can find its way to the Play Store. Still, this doesn’t mean that it’s easy for threats to do so, as hackers still have to meet Google’s standards in order to post their content on it. Malware developers, however, have found ways to sneak their apps past the automated security that Google implements. They do this by uploading an app that initially has no malicious intent, and can therefore circumvent the security of the Play Store. Once the app has been downloaded, it reaches out to a third-party server that then proceeds to install malware directly to the device. This is the process that many malicious applications use to sneak past Google’s security.
How to Spot the Fakes
Google has taken a stand against malicious and fraudulent apps on the Play Store, but measures like Google Play Protect aren’t nearly enough. Vigilance is one of the best ways to keep your business secure from fake apps. If you ever find yourself needing to install an app in the future, be sure to check this list to make sure that the app is actually legitimate first.
- Name, description, and other details: The first sign that an app isn’t legitimate will be its name or description. Malicious applications have traditionally tried to replicate original applications as often as they can, laughing in the face of Google Play’s impersonation policy. Sometimes these apps aren’t caught and pulled immediately, so you have to be extra careful to read the description. Often times, impersonated apps will have descriptions written in broken English. This is why the description is the best indicator that an application is legitimate.
- Check the reviews: The Google Play Store lets users leave reviews, and you can use these reviews as a way to identify dangerous applications. However, a fake application could also be subject to fake reviews, which might make it difficult to identify the good from the bad. Either way, any negative reviews might give you the chance to reconsider your choice to download the app anyway, so if it’s a bad apple in the barrel, you’ll be saving yourself some stress anyway./
- The Developer: Is the app really from the developer that it claims to be from? If it’s a well-known application, you should be able to tell who developed it, but you might need to put on the brakes and take a closer look before downloading a business application. If it’s from an unknown developer with no history, think twice before downloading it.
- Number of downloads: How popular is the app that you want to download? If it’s been downloaded billions of times, it’s probably more legitimate than one with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of downloads.
How many fake apps have you come across on Google Play or the Amazon App Store? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more technology tips and tricks.