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Fake 'Apple' apps appear on Google Play, quickly pulled

updated 02:27 am EST, Sun November 18, 2012

Illustrates flaw in 'open' store app policy, possibly malware-infected

For a brief time on Saturday, a batch of apps claiming to be from "Apple Inc." and including all the titles formerly grouped under the headings "iWork" and "iLife" appeared as Android apps on Google's Play store. The apps, which were apparently lightly-disguised scams, were pulled from the store a few hours later. It is unknown how many Android users may have been fooled and downloaded the apps, and its not yet known for what purpose the fake apps appeared (though malware, very common in the Android community, is very possible).

The appearance of the fake apps illustrates a major problem with the Play store which, while not completely unknown on the iOS App Store, is far more rare there. Google does little to no inspection of apps prior to their appearance on the store, which predictably has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of apps later being discovered to harbor viruses, trojans, botware, phishing, scams and other malware. Security firm BT did an analysis last summer and said that up to one-third of the applications on the Play store contain some form of malware, mostly privacy-violating sniffer code that passes along users' personal information without informing the user.

Though Google has apparently installed some form of malware-checker to try and prevent such problems with the Play store recently, security researchers have shown that the initial malware scanner can be easily spoofed, and the appearance of obvious joke or insidious fake apps from "Apple" is a sign that more work needs to be done on the system to detect threats or (at the very least) scamware.

On the plus side, downloads of the fake apps were likely to be limited, since they weren't free (though they were priced at approximately half their actual value). Android users are notorious for not paying for apps, helping to increase the rise of the "freemium" system and often causing long delays in the platform getting some of the better iOS apps ported over.




By Electronista Staff
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  1. lolwtfbbq

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-18-12

    "though malware, very common in the Android community"

    FUD. Try and find actual examples of actual malware causing any real Android user any problem at all. Android is the most popular mobile platform, dominating Apple and chosen by 4 times more people than iOS. Yet with all these millions of android users, I bet you can't find one that has any problem.

    Is this bs all the Apple heads can come up with now?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Which universe do you live in?

    An Android Trojan grabbing a whole slew of users' bank account info and clearing out their savings was front-page news just this week (at least in this country).

    It's not so much that malware is such a huge and massive problem, it's that it's a problem AT ALL, when looking at it from the perspective of iOS users.

  1. cgc

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 03-25-03

    Originally Posted by lolwtfbbqView Post

    ... Android is the most popular mobile platform, dominating Apple and chosen by 4 times more people than iOS. Yet with all these millions of android users, I bet you can't find one that has any problem. ...


    If you'd cite some references from reputable news sites to back up your claims of no Android users has that (e.g. malware) problem that'd be helpful. I'd go on to say 4 times more people chose Android because they don't care what they're phone is and Android's good enough.

  1. lolwtfbbq

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-18-12

    "An Android Trojan grabbing a whole slew of users' bank account info and clearing out their savings was front-page news just this week (at least in this country)."

    Oh... You mean the German scare where *if* a user of an *already* infected PC just happened to also manually download a fake application and side load it, since was never on the official market, then it was possible that in conjunction with using their infected PC and their banks android additional authentication tool they might have had fake withdrawals. And this happened to a total of how many people? And the minor, optional role android played in this scam was even a factor in how few of those?

    Sorry, a malware that requires a user to have an infected PC is not much of an "android problem", is it?

    Keep on imagining these problems with android that don't exist, if it helps with your rationalizations. The rest of the world is moving on from apple's little child's safety garden and ready for the freedom of a more powerful system.

  1. lolwtfbbq

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-18-12

    Originally Posted by cgcView Post


    If you'd cite some references from reputable news sites to back up your claims of no Android users has that (e.g. malware) problem that'd be helpful. I'd go on to say 4 times more people chose Android because they don't care what they're phone is and Android's good enough.



    How am I supposed to cite references about something that hasn't happened?
    They don't talk about all the cars that did not wreck, the storms that did not form, the buildings that did not burn down, or the millions of android devices that never have any problem. Its not very interesting news.

    You're right, apparently 4 out of 5 people don't care who makes their phone, as long as it works fine and does everything they want to do, they are happy. Kind of makes sense to me. Makes me wonder about the people who only ever buy one brand though. What are they thinking?

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-21-10

    Originally Posted by lolwtfbbqView Post

    [...] Try and find actual examples of actual malware causing any real Android user any problem at all. [...]



    OK, you asked for it. Here are just a few of the Android malware articles Electronista has posted in the last year and a half.
    ...

    FBI warns Android users of malware app risk
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/10/15/loozfon.and.finfisher.cited.as.active.malware.concerns/

    Android malware up 472% since July, unlikely to slow down
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/11/16/android.malware.becoming.significant.issue/

    New Android malware affecting users, connects to botnet
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/02/10/android.malware.rootsmart.infecting.phones/

    McAfee: Android malware surges 76%, iPhone untouched
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/08/23/mcafee.shows.android.facing.huge.spike.in.malware/

    Android 'fee' malware hidden in legitimate apps
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/05/31/malware.spotted.in.20.titles.in.android.market/

    New Android malware uses Facebook to spread
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/02/24/googles.precautionary.bouncer.software.not.enough/

    New Android malware fakes Google+ to spy on phone calls
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/08/12/nickispy.malware.for.android.mimics.google.service/

    Silent, easily made Android rootkit shown at Black Hat
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/10/07/30/security.experts.make.silent.android.malware/

    Malicious Android files on a major growth path
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/04/26/android.malware.sees.huge.increase.since.fall/

    Android malware strikes again, this time via hacked sites
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/05/03/android.hit.by.first.mobile.drive.by.attack/

    New Android malware aims at custom ROM users
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/06/16/android.trojan.jmsmhider.attacks.non.stock.roms/

    Android Malware Project to foster security collaboration
    http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/05/24/project.between.universities.to.aid.in.android.security/

  1. exca1ibur

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-06-00

    They are probably thinking that they can buy whatever the hell they want with their money, so why do you care? If they want an iPhone, fine. If the want an Android phone, fine. Why get hostile and defense about it?

    Doesn't exist? Are you serious?

    Sept 2011- Sept 2012
    http://thenextweb.com/google/2012/10/25/in-one-year-android-malware-up-580-23-of-the-top-500-on-google-play-deemed-high-risk/

    iPhones have had their share of malware issues as well.
    http://www.binaryintel.com/android-iphones-growing-malware-problem-mfc-2012/

    Bottom line is neither phone is perfect, to set there and say either one of these are is just naive.

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    Apple vets every single app before it's allowed in the iTunes App Store.
    It's still not perfect (anything involving humans isn't) but it's the best protection available.
    Very doubtful this would ever happen with iOS.

  1. shifuimam

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 08-15-06

    Apple's so-called vetting process is pretty bad. It gives iOS users a total false sense of security.

    There was the "I am rich" app that swindled people out of a grand - how in the world should that have made it through a real vetting process?

    Then there was Path, which was stealing users' address books secretly and without consent.

    I know that you really, really want to believe that the Almighty Apple is carefully scrubbing every app that goes through the submission process, but that just isn't happening.

    According to this article, as of September 2012 there were over 725,000 apps actively available for download in the Apple App Store. Do you seriously find it logically believable that a company would be able to thoroughly analyze and scrub every single iOS application submitted to the App Store? As others have stated, iOS is not without its share of vulnerabilities and dirty apps that make it onto the App Store.

    iOS is a prime target for the underbelly of the programming world, looking to exploit users and steal personal information. It has a huge user base that isn't getting any smaller. The bottom line is that you can't trust any app on your phone to not do something bad, no matter what Apple tries to tell you. As a user, you are ultimately responsible for your own security and privacy. Don't rely on Apple to do it for you. You don't have to be paranoid, but it's no better to be lulled into complacency because Apple wants you to believe you can.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    lolwtfbbq, you seriously need to stop sniffing the glue and come down to earth. I've yet to meet an Android owner that HASN'T been scammed or hit with malware.

    The hilarious thing is this: like PC owners -- they *refuse* to believe this doesn't happen to everybody!! :lol:

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    Originally Posted by lolwtfbbqView Post

    "though malware, very common in the Android community"
    FUD. Try and find actual examples of actual malware causing any real Android user any problem at all. Android is the most popular mobile platform, dominating Apple and chosen by 4 times more people than iOS.



    How would we know? No android maker has the guts to report actual sales numbers. They only report shipped numbers. Combine that with web server stats that show more iOS browsers than Android, your claim of 4 times more people is laughable.

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by chas_mView Post

    lolwtfbbq, you seriously need to stop sniffing the glue and come down to earth. I've yet to meet an Android owner that HASN'T been scammed or hit with malware.
    The hilarious thing is this: like PC owners -- they *refuse* to believe this doesn't happen to everybody!! :lol:

    I've never been scammed. There

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-14-05

    Originally Posted by blahblahbberView Post

    I've never been scammed. There



    The best victims are the ones who don't know they've been had.

  1. Grendelmon

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Originally Posted by msuper69View Post

    Apple vets every single app before it's allowed in the iTunes App Store.
    It's still not perfect (anything involving humans isn't) but it's the best protection available.
    Very doubtful this would ever happen with iOS.



    Please. This crap happens all the time in the app store.

    IntelliScreenX Scam Hits The App Store And Should Be Avoided At All Costs

    A feature only available in jailbroken phones. Think Apple honestly even looked at this one?

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by chefpastryView Post


    The best victims are the ones who don't know they've been had.

    Right, so is this how you learned?? I won't even get into my pet peaves to satisfy you. Im getting a bit lazy now that the crApple status is now self-evident for the public to take notice. Less work for me!! :)

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