Smartphone securityis becoming a concern for more and more individuals, especially with recent news that SIM cards can be hacked. It seems now that the Google Play Store (which is Android’s version of the iPhone App Store) is riddled with apps designed to scam you.
According to Symantec, scam applications are uploaded to the Google Play Store almost daily. When one fraudulent Android app is removed, another one takes it place almost as quickly.
The number of questionable smartphone apps in the Google Play Store has been growing, the company says. Here’s how you can stay safe and avoid downloading an Android scam app:
Scam Apps Are Nothing New in Google Play
Since Google doesn’t pore over its application submissions quite as thoroughly as Apple does before accepting new apps in its App Store, it’s easier for cyber scammers to sneak in fraudulent programs.
While Google does have a way to scan for malicious code, many of the applications in question have been finding very clever ways of getting around that issue.
PC World quotes one Symantec employee:
“Although they have short lives, the apps must provide ample profit for the scammers as they show no signs of halting their development of new ones.”
What’s more, these applications don’t actually use malicious code to scam people. Instead, they rely on simple human error to exploit you, which makes them nearly impossible to spot with an automated processes.
How Android Smartphone App Scams Work
Many of these scam applications can be tough to spot. They might not look as well-made or professional as some of the more legitimate apps available in the Google Play Store, but they have a lot of tricks in place to fool both users and the Google employees monitoring Play Store app submissions.
One of these particular applications opens up with no purpose other than to launch a link to an adult video website. The user is then asked to register so that the site can play its videos. When this happens, an email form is generated, and a link to another service on another website is sent.
If this process is followed, the user is eventually told that a $3,200 yearly fee needs to be paid within the next few days.
New applications like this are constantly showing up in the Google Play Store, and require that Android users be careful when using new apps, especially ones that don’t come from reputable sources.
How You Can Keep Your Smartphone Safe
As with most digital scams, if it looks less than legitimate, it probably is. There are a lot of scam-based apps on the market, and they typically don’t come from reputable sources. If the developer’s studio has never released another title and there’s little to no consumer reviews or ratings, be careful.
The second you’re asked to give up sensitive personal information by an application, that’s a red flag. Plenty of games require in-app purchases, but these typically aren’t necessary to enjoy a game.
Anything that requires further purchase after you’ve already bought the application might also be a scam.
Do you have any tips for keeping things safe in the Google Play Store? Share them with us in the comments!