Ever searched for an app you want to download, only to find a gazillion fake versions? Other than ripping off the original developers, these copies could be on the hunt for something more malicious than your sweet in-app purchase dollars - your personal information.
According to research conducted by Nord VPN, if a fake app isn't free, if it's a shopping app that's asking for your credit card information, or essentially has anything to do with payments, you're looking at a huge risk.
"It has been asserted that while some apps simply have the aim to share ads, there are also many that seek to steal the user's identity and credit card information," Nord VPN asserts. "These apps can use malware to steal personal information or can even tinker with the phone and lock it up until the user pays a ransom".
Here are Nord VPN's top tips to protect yourself and spot fake apps:
- Incorrect use of language. Since most fake apps are made in haste, often where English is not a native tongue, they might use broken English grammar. Users should pay attention to spelling and grammar in any app descriptions if they have any doubts about its originality.
- Lack of reviews. Fake apps typically won’t have any user reviews – so that’s a definite sign an app could be a fake.
- It’s especially important to pay attention to retail apps. Many fake retail apps pop up before major holidays – such as Zappos, Nordstrom, Christian Dior and many others. Retail apps that ask users for their credit card info should be especially monitored.
- Correct developer’s name. Users need to check for the name of the developer in the corresponding category, and avoid downloading apps that have a wrong or misspelled developers’ name.
- Website domains in the title. Some apps will feature the website in their title – that might also be 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.
- Leading to the website. If it’s a paid app or if it conducts any transactions and if it does not lead to a company website, something is amiss.
- Deals. If the app promotes a deal that is too good to be true, be suspicious.
Basically, stay on your toes. Double check everything. Happy downloading!