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Fake Apps: How to Spot Them and Avoid Them

author

Grayson Rodriguez

Jan 6, 2023 | 7 min read
  • Online threats
  • Tips

 

Overview 

 

In the Internet age, people are used to using apps to solve many things, and downloading apps is usually free. But not every app is 100% safe. Even the official app stores for iOS and Android have tons of fake apps. In this article, we will show you some tips for spotting fake apps and how to avoid them.

 

Contents 

 

What are fake apps?

What are the types of fake apps?

Are fake apps dangerous?

Tips for spotting fake apps

What to do if you find a fake app?

 

What are fake apps?

 

Fake apps mimic the look and function of legitimate apps, making them look like apps you know or want to download. But in reality they are tools used by cybercriminals to carry out malicious activities. Such as displaying strange ads, monitoring your device activity, or stealing your personal information, etc.

 

What are the types of fake apps?

 

There are two common types of fake apps:

① The Counterfeit . It can also be called a high imitation application. The app tries to look similar to the legitimate and authentic original, often using similar names and similar icons to confuse you.

② The repackage . Criminals modify open-source apps released by developers, add harmful ads, and repackage them. This is much easier than developing a new app.

 

Are fake apps dangerous?

 

The answer is yes. When installing third-party software, you will be asked for various permissions. Fake apps that masquerade as legitimate apps can use these permissions to perform malicious actions.This can have serious consequences:

① Affect your normal use . You may just turn on your phone as usual, but annoying ads pop up from time to time. Even if it is closed, it will reappear after a while. The phone also automatically downloads apps you don't recognize. These will seriously affect your use of mobile phones.

② Information leakage . Hackers can obtain your personal data through fake apps, sell it or use it for criminal activities. If the bank card information is obtained, hackers can easily access your bank account.

③ Ransomware infection . Criminals often plant viruses in apps that lock your phone until you pay them a ransom.

 

Tips for spotting fake apps

 

Many fake apps are unsophisticated. Mastering the following tips can help you identify them and avoid threats.

Before downloading the app:

① Choose a regular download channel . To download apps, choose a safe and large official app market or an official download link. Do not click on unknown links or scan unknown QR codes. In this way, you can stay away from some fake apps before downloading the app.

② Look at the number of app downloads . Check the app download count. Official applications generally have relatively large downloads. If you see a popular app with only a few thousand downloads, it's probably a fake.

③ Read the comments . If an app has very low ratings and negative reviews, then you need to be wary. But apps with all positive reviews can also be a trap.

After downloading the app:

① Check out the title and icon . Fake apps use similar designs to legitimate apps in order to appear authentic, but the icons of fake apps look low-quality. Titles and text inside the app may have misspellings or strange characters.

② Be mindful of the permissions your app requests . If you've downloaded an app but are concerned it's a fake app, you can check the permissions it's asking you to grant. The simple way is to pay attention to whether the permissions requested by the app are directly related to its functions. If a flashlight app asks for permission to access contacts or location, you should be wary.

③ Note the size of the app . The more functions the mobile app has, the more complex the screen is, and the more memory it takes up. Fake apps are cheap to make and usually take up little memory for easy installation.

 

What to do if you find a fake app?

 

If you have downloaded a fake app, the first thing to do is uninstall it completely. Make sure you have deleted all related files in settings, then reboot your device . Use anti-virus software to conduct a comprehensive scan without leaving hidden dangers. Finally you can report fake apps to the app store .

 

You can also use MetroVPN to protect yourself from fake apps and websites. A VPN can hide your IP address and protect your personal information from being leaked. Using MetroVPN also gives you pure web browsing with no ads and no trackers. For a secure digital life, MetroVPN is essential.

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