According to research by a cybersecurity company Avast, more than 2.4 million Android and iPhone users downloaded 7 sketchy apps from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. In addition, the developers have already received revenue of about $500,000.
As reported by Avast, a 12 years old girl from the Czech Republic first complaint about the fishy behavior of a popular app. After the initial report by the girl, Avast was able to catch a new batch of sketchy apps.
The girl actually was a participant in Avast’s Be Safe Online project. “Using the skills she learned in the program, the young lady was able to identify and report the scam directly to Avast,” the company’s report notes.
Those apps were “specifically targeted to young people, in the form of games, wallpaper, and music downloaders. The scams come in the form of either charging $2 to $10 for a service that doesn’t meet that price point — including causing the phone to vibrate, a wallpaper, or access to music — or in the form of aggressive ads.”
According to ZDNet, these apps already pulled from the Google Play Store: ThemeZone – Shawky App Free – Shock My Friends – Ultimate Music Downloader – Free Download Music. Apps that were removed from the Apple App Store include Shock My Friends – Satuna, 666 Time, ThemeZone – Live Wallpapers, and Shock my Friend Tap Roulette.
“The apps we discovered are scams and violate both Google’s and Apple’s app policies by either making misleading claims around app functionalities, or serving ads outside of the app and hiding the original app icon soon after the app is installed,” said Jakub Vávra, a threat analyst at Avast. “It is particularly concerning that the apps are being promoted on social media platforms popular among younger kids, who may not recognize some of the red flags surrounding the apps and therefore may fall for them.”