A few weeks ago, the world celebrated International Data Privacy Day. The goal of the day is to draw attention to all the personal information you own, and make sure it is secure as it can be. Most of us know to strengthen passwords and log out of sensitive accounts, but not many people know how to spot a fake app. And with apps for everything these days, knowing the difference between a real app and a fake app may prove to be a very useful skill indeed.
Firstly, virtually all apps for download ask the user for permissions to record and use items such as location, contact lists, use of a camera and so on. The longer the list of "permissions," the more sceptical you should be about the authenticity of the app. For example, if an app that offers free wallpaper for your smartphone also asks for a list of your friends or use of your camera, then something is probably wrong.
When you search for an app on Apple or Google's Play store, you will often get a list of apps that resemble the real one, but are actually fake copies. Even though Apple and Google both have difficult processes for bringing an app to market in their app stores, new malicious apps still appear every day. The danger is significant – download a fake app and you could compromise everything from your personal photos, to email contacts to credit card information.
Here are our business IT consultants’ top tips for spotting a fake app.
Incorrect use of language
Since most fake apps are made by hackers whose native language is not English, you will often see grammar or spelling mistakes. Read app descriptions carefully and keep an eye out for errors.
Lack of reviews
Fake apps typically don’t have user reviews, or the few they do have don’t actually say much.
Many fake retail apps pop up before major holidays, such as those impersonating Zappos, Christian Dior and many others. Retail apps that ask users for their credit card info should be carefully checked out.
Correct developer's name
Check for the name of the developer in the corresponding category and avoid downloading apps that have a wrong or misspelled developer's name. It is remarkable how many hackers get it wrong!
Website domains in the title
Some apps will feature the website in their title—usually a red flag.
Variety of apps
If an app is fake, the developer is likely making all sorts of apps that can cover anything from gardening to games to retail shopping. Check out the other apps by the same developer.
Leading to the website
If the app is one you pay for, or asks for payment information, it should lead to the company’s website. If it doesn’t, something is probably amiss.
And perhaps the most obvious one… if the app promotes a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is. “Download to win £1,000,000 and a trip to Tahiti” – tempting, but not so clever.
Increasingly, BTA’s business IT consultants are finding that corporate security has been compromised by staff’s devices—usually personal devices on company networks. Apps are one way this happens. Employees inadvertently download a fake app that then accesses the data on the phone. So don’t take down the company network, and don’t give hackers access to your most sensitive data: look out for fake apps!
BTA is a leading IT services provider based in Wandsworth, London. Specialising in IT security, comprehensive managed services and network redesign & implementation, BTA has over 20 years of experience setting businesses up for technology success. For more information on business IT or a free consultation, please call 020 8875 7676 today.