With Android devices becoming more popular, it only makes sense that hackers want to target them. This is why Android app scams and malware are on the rise. However, you can take steps right now to avoid these issues and keep your device scam and malware free.
Android Is Vulnerable
Android was the unfortunate winner of 2016’s product with the most vulnerabilities award. The study found that Android had 523 vulnerabilities as of the end of 2016. Google is releasing monthly security updates for Android, but the problem is device manufacturers and mobile providers may not push the updates out right away.
According to the Android Security 2015 Annual Report, Google works to reduce Android app scams and malware by scanning over six billion installed apps daily and checking over 400 million devices daily. Google has also reduced the possibility of downloading a PHA (potentially harmful app) by 40% since 2014.
However, in October and November of 2016, 50 new apps were released into the Google Play Store that were infected by Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.am and Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.ad. Some of the apps were installed over 100,000 times. An app disguised as an operating system cleaner was actually ransomware used to hold Android devices hostage.
Even though Google is working diligently to reduce and prevent scams and malware in Android, there’s no way to make your devices 100% safe. This means it’s up to you to pick up where Google leaves off.
Related Read: Is SpyDealer Spying on Your Android Device?
Recognizing Android App Scams
Android app scams are often convincing as they might look like legitimate apps, but they’re really just trying to scam you into doing something else. For instance, Google shut down a massive ad fraud scam early in 2017 in various Kiniwini apps that forced users to click on an ad just to navigate within the app.
Antivirus apps didn’t detect anything because the ad portion downloads after the app is already installed. Luckily, there are ways for you to notice Android app scams long before you download anything.
A few red flags to watch for include:
- Large number of downloads, but very few reviews
- Link to an app from a questionable source
- Link to an app from another app (avoiding clicking ads within an app as they could be a scam)
- Visit the developer’s site (should be listed in the Play Store). If it leads to an error page or a Google homepage, it’s a scam.
- Look for crazy permissions that don’t make sense
- Apps with numerous ads (small banner ads or occasional ads between screens are common)
- App descriptions with numerous grammatical errors
- Screenshots that don’t look like the actual app
Another thing to pay close attention to are apps that ask you for more information about yourself. For instance, every app doesn’t need your email address. Some scam apps ask for this so they can then send you phishing emails. Other apps use your phone’s account details to send you phishing texts.
Remember that many Android scam apps lead to malware. For instance, you might click on an ad that installs malware on your device.
Avoid the threat of malware by paying close attention to what you download and only download from reputable sources, such as the Google Play Store or Amazon App Store. Other sources are risky and could compromise your phone and personal data.
Related Read: Does Your Android Smartphone Need Antivirus Protection?
Contribution by Crystal Crowder
About the Author
Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.