Study: Apps Masquerade as Legit to Snare Gamblers
Apps affected by shady operators pose cyber security risk to players. Apple’s App Store and Google Play monitor the industry to catch unscrupulous players seeking to steal your privacy. Trend Micro found dozens of fake apps masquerading as legitimate offerings before being unmasked as frauds, designed to pivot users towards downloading gambling services.
It’s easy to find gambling software in both Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.
However, both tech giants regulate this industry to prevent overcharging, misuse, abuse, and flouting of local laws, which vary from country to country. Simple steps can make the difference between losing your online accounts and maintaining privacy.
Recent research has revealed just how far some shady operators will go, according to ZDNet. Late last month, cyber security researchers from Trend Micro found dozens of fake apps in both stores all of which masqueraded as legitimate offerings before being unmasked as fake, designed to pivot users towards downloading gambling services.
For example, one app described as a hub for holiday information, redirected users to a lottery system. Wine, weather, and entertainment apps were also found to be fraudulent. Some of the apps, unfortunately, were spotted in Top 100 lists and had been rated over 100,000 times, revealing how entrenched they were .
The applications mimicked genuine content in both stores and could also be downloaded outside of the App Store and Google Play. In Android’s case, users would be directed to an APK file, but when it comes to iOS, people would be directed back to the App Store.
Once downloaded and installed, the apps would, at first, behave normally. However, each app contained a ‘switch’ in which fraudsters could set an app to show its true gambling content. Trend Micro believes the switch is off during review processes, allowing them to pass inspection.
A connection between some of the fraudulent apps was found via a command-and-control server. “At the time of our research, these apps only seem to use WebView to load a gambling website, and do nothing malicious on the device,” Trend Micro said. “However, fake as these apps may be, they still outranked the apps they impersonated.”
Apple and Google were notified of the researcher’s findings and every fake app has been removed.