Study finds 2040 counterfeit apps in Google Play Store containing malware

Google search share button in beta testing

The two year study, conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) Data61, analyzed more than a million Android apps on the platform. However, the researchers are still calling on Google to improve oversight and the app approval process for the Google Play store. If there were apps that had no malware in them, they would be found asking for too many permissions which could lead to data misuse later or to push unsolicited ads through other means.

Other apps that were regularly spoofed include Free Flow, Hill Climb Racing, along with fitness trackers, photo editors and finance management tools.

The investigation was done by the researchers using neural networks, and found that there were many apps with visually similar icons to 10,000 of the most popular apps on Google Play, and also partially plagiarised their text descriptions. The latest beta version of the Google app is getting a new Share button in the address bar.

The total revenue generated by the top hundred of App Store was $83.8 million, while the top hundred of Google Play Store made $51 million. For example, Temple Run is an app that has remained popular for several years now, and the fact of the matter is that counterfeits of this app are everywhere right now. They found that 1,565 apps asked for at least five risky permissions, and 1407 had at least five embedded third party ad libraries.

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Co-author of the study, Dr Suranga Seneviratne, a Computer Science academic and cybersecurity expert, explained: "Many fake apps appear innocent and legitimate - smartphone users can easily fall victim to app impersonations and even a tech-savvy user may struggle to detect them before installation".

Of these 1 million apps scanned, 7 246 were flagged as malicious and 2040 were branded as fake high-risk applications. "(We have) stopped more malicious apps from entering the Google Play Store than ever before. Google doesn't manually screen mobile app because there are automated processes that check them.

A drift like this - from 10M to 100M - within only 10 months is one that makes it hard to overlook Google Go app. About 1,407 embed third-party ad libraries. According to the company, the number of rejected app submissions increased by more than 55 percent in 2018, and app suspensions swelled by more than 66 percent.

Due to this, Google unveiled Android Go, a lite version of Android that is stripped down to the basic.

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