Windows Phone Store plagued by fake mobile apps
Tue 6 Oct 2015
A new post from security company Avast indicates that the Windows Phone Store has become a new locus of attention for fake-app scammers deterred by improved security and auditing procedures at analogous stores such as Google Play. Bogus apps available at the store are pretending to originate from major-name publishers such as the BBC, CNN, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – it seems that many app-seeking users look no further than the name, despite the fact that the dubious provenance is clearly indicated by noting who made the app available in the store.
The post notes that the Windows third-party marketplace even contains three fraudulent Avast apps. The primary aim of the fake Windows phone apps seems to be to draw unwitting customers towards ads and adware. Avast note as well that of all the data the apps collect about their user, the victim’s location is the key point of interest, as this is used to choose which ads to display.
Some of the ‘switches’ on display once a bogus app is installed are specious; the fake CNN World News app is actually a branded version of an evangelical message called ‘Abundant life’. The three sham Avast apps do no actual harm beyond directing app users to Avast’s own website and manipulating the ads displayed.
The ecostructure of fake apps do extend beyond dull mischievousness in scope, as many will redirect users to genuine scam web pages which attempt to convince them to install unnecessary and unhelpful software in order to fix non-existent problems on their device.
Avast note the extraordinary length of time that fake apps remain on the Windows Phone Store – in some cases for months at a time, commenting ‘For some reason, no one takes the time to report bad apps, even if it’s clear that they are fake and the majority of user reviews are extremely negative.’
In August Avast made an initial report on the polluted state of scamming apps in the Windows Phone Store, and discovered that individual ‘publishers’ are playing the numbers game with scam apps at the store, often making available up to fifty apps at $1.99 a throw.