Different apps have shown up in the app store in the wake of WannaCrypt promising they will protect your phone(s) from the global ransomware attack.
But hold on: WannaCry ensnared over 200,000 computers around the world, but we have not heard of a phone affected by the ransomware.
The more alarming issue is that these apps were filled with malware carrying out the same attack the apps promise to protect your phone against. McAfee first discovered these fake apps back in May. The fake Wannacrypt protection apps point to the growing trend of viruses masquerading as antivirus apps.
A cyber security firm (RiskIQ) found seven apps promising to protect phones against Wannacrypt in the Google Play store and found another two in Apple’s App Store. These apps are demanding excessive permission like knowing your phone’s wake password. RiskIQ eventually blacklisted one of the phony WannaCrypt apps because of the red flag it raised.
Researchers have found hundreds of fake antivirus apps on the market – fake apps packed with Trojans, adware, and sources of malware.
This is another unsettling discovery in many cyber threats hanging over our heads. With everything and everyone seemingly connected over the internet, you are just a weak password or bad download away from a bad situation.
Fake apps by numbers
In this latest worrisome scenario, out of 4,292 active antivirus apps, 523 of them set off malware alarms. It means out of 10 antivirus apps, more than one are traps waiting to store malware on your phone.
508 fake virus protectors were found in Google Play store out of the 525 fake antivirus apps according to research, and the remaining ones are found in third-party app stores.
Johnny Lin explained how scammers made $80,000 in just one month through a fake iOS app known as Mobile Protection: Clean $ Security VPN. The fake app had risen to the top ten grossing productivity app before it was taken down from the app store.
What the phony app does is to scan your device’s contacts and tell you that your iPhone is at risk because of lack of Secure Internet. Lin said after he installed it his phone displayed pop-ups for a free antivirus trial and bubble shooter game. The free antivirus trial cost him $99.99 for just seven-day subscription.
He said he was a single Touch ID away from $400 a month subscription to reroute all his internet traffic to a scammer. The app had received over 50,000 downloads before it was taken down.
We recommend you give all apps a careful read before downloading them on your phone. Most of the fake apps are riddled with grammatical errors according to RiskIQ.
One of the errors reads ‘’ANTI VIRUS: Instantly use full of smart anti-virus.’’ So, watch out!