Fake Mobile Apps: A Growing Threat

Updated: Jun 29

A fake mobile app is an Android or iOS app that mimics the appearance and functionality of a legitimate app and offers legitimate features, but hides features that are undetectable to the user. Applications on mobile phone devices can get targeted users to download something by using real businesses or popular references. Fake mobile applications are applications that copy or mimic the look and functions of genuine applications and lure unsuspecting targeted users to install them. When you download and install a legitimate application, it can perform various malicious operations. Counterfeit apps can be designed to advertise revenue, while other apps are designed to collect login credentials, intercept sensitive data, or infect devices. The aforementioned reasons are why fake mobile applications are a leading cause of mobile ad- fraud. To understand this aspect of ad- fraud we shall learn more about it in the given article.


Counterfeit mobile apps are Android and iOS apps that mimic the appearance and function of legitimate apps to trick unimportant users into installing them. Fake apps display advertisements to generate advertising revenue, install malware on your device, steal your account information and use your permissions. The process of creating and disabling fake apps is simple as a cybercriminal simply registers in an App Store as a developer, downloads a legitimate application and rewrites it to include malicious code.


Downloading and installing an app can have many harmful effects. Fake apps incline towards requiring supplementary permissions than genuine ones and have more control over the targeted user's device. Apps can access your location, email address, phone number and more by default. Given the importance and prevalence of mobile applications, it is crucial for companies to integrate their brand protection and security strategies into the protection, monitoring and implementation of mobile applications, especially when mobile applications are on the market. Monitoring the official app store and reporting organisations that abuse their trademarks can reduce the negative impact of fake apps. Quick and easy access to genuine applications in the app store can certainly reduce the risk of users downloading fake applications.


According to McAfee Mobile Threat Report 2019, 65,000 new rogue apps were discovered in December of last year alone, six times more than in June 2018. Rogue and fake apps are becoming a growing threat to consumers, with the associated malicious activities and ad- fraud corresponding to them rising by 191% between 2018 and 2019. Fake apps remained a trend in 2019, exacerbated by fake versions of popular apps and brands circulating in the Google Play Store. The creation of fake apps has become a new threat to consumer as cybercriminals sneak in on mobile platforms as preferred targets.


Why fake applications are considered dangerous?


When one installs a third-party application, scammer will request permission to access your data (Gmail, OneDrive, etc.). Rogue applications use these permissions to maliciously access your data. This can have serious consequences:


1. Data leakage:

Using fake apps that gain access to your data (e.g. email), hackers can read or delete any information. If the email contains sensitive information such as credentials or bank card details, hackers can use it to access your bank account.


2. Compliance violation:

Loss or exposure of data can lead to violations of data security compliance standards such as HIPAA. Fines for compliance violations can be very high.


3. Ransomware infection:

Rogue applications can be used to infect your system via ransomware. Therefore, your data will be encrypted and unreadable. To return it, the hacker will ask you for money. The ransom demand can run into the millions of dollars.


Needless to say, all of this can lead to significant financial and reputational losses. That is why it is very important to prevent fake applications being used.


As the number of smartphone users continues to grow, cybercriminals in the form of rogue applications targeting mobile phones are becoming more and more common. Mobile device users, also known as mobile users, are increasingly exposed to malicious activity and are concerned about the pressure of malware apps on smartphones, tablets and other devices with mobile operating systems. Many of these applications exploit security vulnerabilities in their mobile operating systems, and one of the best ways for mobile users to keep themselves secure is updating their operating system regularly. However, consumers can protect themselves from rogue applications and other mobile malware threats through several methods. In view of this, Name-shield proposed online monitoring of mobile applications in the app store, so that everyone can identify the infringers of your brand and help you take immediate measures.


In 2021, common tactics, such as advertising, phishing and false applications, continue to dominate the landscape of mobile threats. First world user is looking for a mobile application that is connected to your favourite brand. As demand is growing and the opportunity to expand the use of mobile devices is increasing, cybercriminals are expected to search for details of these assignments to exploit new function applications and advanced application calls to increase. Mobile applications can use more than 5 million applications that can be downloaded at the main application stores, and more than 2,000 new applications charged daily. The data suggest that the user has an increasingly installed mobile application for mobile devices, and the consumption of these mobile data is increasing.


With millions of apps available, it's not easy to spot counterfeits. Cybercriminals attract the attention of the public online and are easily attracted by applications that are causing a sensation on mobile devices around the world. Thus it can be understood that counterfeit applications are the number one threat to network security. Cybercriminals falsify legal trademarks by using official company logos and images to persuade users to download and install cloned applications. The fake WhatsApp application updated WhatsApp to be the same as the official WhatsApp application and sent many advertisements to users. Fake apps take advantage of the popularity of major e-commerce brands to obtain credit card information and personal information. With such comprehensive examples and explanation, it must be understood to the reader how fake mobile apps can cause ad- fraud.

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