Surge in Fake Apps Claiming to be Virus Protection

Jun 21, 2017

Since the massive WannaCry malware attack that has, to date, held over 200,000 computers in over 150 countries for ransom, there has been a surge in self-proclaimed virus scanners in app stores.

But don’t be fooled. Just because an app calls itself a virus scanner or virus protection, doesn’t mean it’s intentions are pure. Recently, CNET reported that many of these virus protection apps available in stores are scams in themselves, preying on users searching for legitimate protection from digital vulnerabilities like WannaCry and other hacker-generated mayhem.

"There has been a recent rise in fake WannaCry 'protectors,' apps that use fear and hysteria around the self-propagating ransomware to drive downloads, even though mobile systems are safe from its impact," a RiskIQ cybersecurity firm spokeswoman said.

Is Digital Safety Possible?

Like anything else in life, making informed choices is your best bet. Do your homework and research as much as you possibly can before you download anything to your computer, tablet or phone. However, even the sharpest person can be susceptible to the sheer volume of viruses, trojans, and malware out there. In many cases, it depends on your operating system and, of course, your digital habits.

While both Google Play and iTunes are at risk for bogus anti-virus apps to reach consumers, Android users are more susceptible. Because of this, Google is strengthening their app store protocols and just launched Android Excellence, an approved list of highly vetted apps that meet a rigorous standard. These are being called “Editor’s Choice” apps and the first round of approved apps can be found here.

The Android Developer’s blog claims, “The new collections will showcase apps and games that deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization.” Though, from the looks of their best practices list, Google Play doesn’t mention how they verify the legitimacy or safety of these apps.

g play practices

Source: Android Developer’s Blog

How You Can Stay Safe Digitally

While it feels like cyber security is at an all-time low, there are steps you can take to protect your devices and keep your family’s information from harm. According to The Consumerist, “RiskIQ’s advice to sets who want to put legitimate apps on their phones?

  1. Stick to official stores — look on Google Play, not on random websites.
  2. Read the app description carefully — look for grammatical errors or inconsistencies.
  3. Research the publisher — double-check their email contact address to see if it’s an “@business.com” type email, and not a Hotmail or Gmail throwaway. Also, have a look at the developer’s other apps, or perhaps even search the developer name to see if they’re legitimate.”

risk virus2Source: RiskIQ

ZDNet reports that “In order to remain safe from malicious applications, RiskIQ advises users to only download apps from official app stores, which are better at removing dangerous downloads than third-party stores.

Users should also review permission requests and be wary of an app which seems to be overreaching, as well as carefully examining the app description, as malicious apps are more likely to be riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.”