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How to Stay Safe from Fake Apps

  • Highlights

  • Cybercriminals conning people using fake apps are becoming common

  • Mobile App downloads touched 218 billion in 2020

  • Always check app reviews and app details for inconsistencies

  • Do not download apps from unknown and unverified sources

As per Statista, consumers in 2020 downloaded 218 billion apps. The mobile app market is expected to generate over US$ 935 billion in revenues by 2023. These figures determine the sheer velocity and expansion of this sector which is impossible to overlook.
There is no denying that billions of smartphone users benefit from today’s advanced mobile technology. From the ease of navigating the world to opening up immense possibilities at the touch of a fingertip; today’s tech-driven environment has brought the world within our palms. While the unparalleled expansion of mobile technology is extremely evident, we cannot oversee the dark side of it. As the number of smartphone users goes up, so does the number of criminals using this mode to dupe the innocent. 

What is the fake app mobile scam modus operandi?

Fake apps are created by cybercriminals and contain malicious code intended to steal the user’s data. The look and functionality are designed in such a way so as to copy the real app and trick users into downloading them.

The third-party app when installed on your phone requests multiple permissions to access your data, which is consented to by you; thereby giving unlimited access to your personal and financial information without your ‘real consent’. Creating fake apps is the latest mobile scam plaguing consumers globally.

Unfortunately, the ability to create and distribute a fake app quite easily, makes this mobile scam even more difficult. All that a cybercriminal needs to do is get registered as a developer on an IOS or Android app store, download a genuine application and revise it to include malware. The fake app is then uploaded on the app store with an uncanny resemblance to the original app.  

These apps look like legitimate banking, UPI, digital payment, gaming, and other apps. Once the user installs them, they get unauthorised access to information as well as to read phone screens and messages with OTPs, PINs, CVVs, etc. This sensitive information can be misused in unimaginable ways.


How to check if an app is safe

  • A little research can help go a long way. One cannot determine if the developer is genuine or fake just by the number of reviews as sometimesthey may be just starting out. Conduct an internet search about the developer and app or go to the website of the legitimate developer as that will showcase all the apps the company has coded.

  • Make sure to go through the reviews; past experiences of users been duped through the same fake app. Reviews give away a lot about the legitimacy of the app. If the reviews are inaccurate and short, it should raise a red flag. 

  • The details of the app are great indicators to determine its genuineness. Unprofessional images, non-symmetrical placement of images and logos, mismatched fonts, incorrect grammar, and spelling errors are all giveaways of the ingenuity of the app.  

  • Check if the app has thorough explanations, features, details, and instructions.. A legitimate developer will include all this information.

  • Refrain from installing and downloading apps from untrusted sources

  • Verify the permissions that the app requires and only then grant relevant permissions

  • Your settings will have an option to disable the installation of apps from “untrusted sources”. Activate that setting

  • Try not to use public Wi-Fi networks and turn off your Wi-Fi connection when not in useScammers use rogue Wi-Fi access points to distribute malicious apps in public areas

  • Don’t click on links in SMSes, WhatsApps, or emails that direct you to download an app especially if the communication is from an unknown sender

  • Download the Bajaj Finserv app mentioned only on the official website here - https://www.bajajfinserv.in/bajaj-finserv-experia-app. It will direct you to the authentic app on the play store. Similarly for other apps, visit the official website.

If you have incurred any financial loss due to the fake mobile scam, call the Cyber Fraud National helpline number at 155260.

Mobile technology is evolving rapidly and there are no signs of it slowing down in the future. As digital consumers, we need to be more vigilant and keep mobile scams at bay. Once you know how to stay safe from fake apps and other cyber frauds, you will be at a reduced risk from cybercriminals.

Savdhaan Rahein. Safe Rahein.

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