A new report online has spotted a number of fake antivirus apps on the Google Play Store. It also highlighted that fake apps such as Virus Cleaner and Antivirus security have already seen over a lakh download. These antivirus apps mimic the functionalities of real apps with functions like “scan device for viruses”. The primary of these apps is to show advertisements and increase the downloads for revenue. It is worth noting that such fake apps are not a new problem for the Google Play Store.

Google Play Store fake app problem

Quick Heal Security stated, “These apps don’t have any AV engines or scan capabilities except a predefined list of Apps marked as malicious or clean. This list appears to be static and we haven’t seen it getting updated during our analysis.” The fake antivirus apps contain predefined package lists to indicate possible harmful apps. These lists include whiteList.json with few whitelist package names and blackListPackages.json with few blacklist package names. App makers also include blackListActivities.json with a list of blacklisted activities.

This list is used for actual scanning and to show final scan results. It also contains a list of predefined permissions and uses it to show risks associated with other apps. It also checks installed package names against the pre-defined static whitelists. “These fake antivirus Apps don’t have any functionalities related to malware scanning or identifying any other security issues. These apps only show a fake virus detection alert to the user and eventually show advertisements,” the firm added. These applications disguise as “security” or “antivirus” in their name and do nothing related to security.

As mentioned above, this problem is not really new and has plagued the Play Store for quite some time. Google has tried to work on this problem but a significant number of apps have slipped through the gaps. The only thing that we can suggest to stop this to ask users to only install trustworthy and popular apps.

With inputs from IANS