We all use smartphones, we all download Apps, we are all concerned about our personal data and security. But how do we know if the Apps we are downloading are good or bad? What about fake Apps or TrApps as we like to call them?
Fake apps are a problem, no matter if you have an Android, Apple or Google phone. If installed, at best they could bombard you with ads and at worst they could steal your personal data. One of the most prominent ones in recent history was a fake WhatsApp that was downloaded by over one million people who were duped by missing a white space at the end of the App name in the underlying coding (see below).
Fake Apps are often taken down as soon as people realise and report them but by then it could be too late; data and security may have been compromised.
Google are taking steps to help prevent this and are working on “Google Play Protect” to help combat the issue on Android devices. This is to verify if the Apps are real or not, so people know which ones to download. As well as this, they claim to have removed around 700,000 fake Apps so far. A good start.
The Apple iOS is arguably more secure (and restrictive) so perhaps less prone to the really nasty stuff. But the Apple Store abounds with shopping Apps that could potentially steal your data.
What can you do as a smartphone user to avoid these traps?
- Fakes will nearly always use the same logo as the original, so this isn’t enough to know if it’s real.
- Check the App name and developer, are they reputable?
- Check the download count, higher generally means more likely to be genuine.
- Check for spelling errors or sloppy writing – it’s a dead giveaway.
- Read the description and look at the screenshots; too good to be true? Then it most likely will be.
- Go to the company website – if the App is not there, the one you are looking at will be a fake!
- Finally read the reviews, good and bad ones. You’ll get a real flavour.
- Ask us for advice.
If you do spot a fake App, flag it as inappropriate and report it. This is one step towards getting it removed and stopping other people from downloading it.
Steps are being made but there is a long way to go.