Counterfeit apps on Google Play

Researchers in Australia conducted a two-year study to analyse over one million Android apps available on Google Play.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Data61 found thousands of counterfeit apps and games.

They used a convolutional neural net to identify similarities in app icons that might trick unsuspecting users into downloading fake apps. They also looked at plagiarised text descriptions of the top 10,000 most popular apps in Google Play Store. This process surfaced almost 50,000 potential counterfeit apps. Just over 2000 of these contained malware while more than 1500 were requesting at least five additional, dangerous permissions than the original app.

Many of the apps identified are no longer available on the platform and Google has tightened its policies. App suspensions have increased by 66%.

Simple trick

The Next Web article reminds potential app downloaders of some simple tricks. Remember to read the app’s reviews and look at the app’s permissions to confirm they are not requesting access to more data etc than would be needed to make the app work.

Source: The Next Web.
Research available on the The ACM Digital Library.