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Security & privacy

Online fraud is skyrocketing thanks to phony apps – How to protect yourself

Although exact numbers are tricky to come by, some estimates peg the number of Android apps available for download at around 3.5 million. At the same time, the number of iOS applications available is approximately 2.2 million.

That is a tremendous amount of content that is readily available. But not all the apps and services are safe for use. It should come as no surprise that many downloadable applications have been put there by criminals. Tap or click for details on fake Netflix apps that were recently discovered.

The sole purpose of fraudulent apps is to steal your money, identity or personal information. But how common are they? Well, according to a new study, as many as 49,000 fraudulent attacks happened in the second quarter of this year alone. Read on for all the frightening details.

Here’s the backstory

Recent online fraud attacks appear to be relatively unsophisticated but highly sneaky. According to fraud protection company Outseer, attacks launched through fake apps are becoming more common.

Criminals develop near-identical versions of real mobile banking or other applications and trick people into signing in. Doing this will send personal data to the criminals to be exploited. Some fake apps can be found on Apple’s App Store but are more prevalent on the Google Play Store and third-party app stores.

In a report by Outseer, almost a third of the fraudulent attacks launched in the second quarter of this year came from fake apps. Fraudulent apps are also more common, as the number of spoofed apps increased by 66% over a 90-day period.

What you can do about fake apps

The report indicates that more people have been using banking apps since the start of the pandemic. Unable or unwilling to go into a physical bank, apps make it easier to conduct banking transactions, send money or check your statements.

Criminals spread malicious banking apps by making them available through app stores, online advertising, posts on social media or phishing emails. But there are ways to protect your money and safeguard your identity. Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid third-party app stores – Only download mobile applications from official app stores. Even though some malicious apps make their way into official app stores, they are more common in third-party stores.
  • Get apps from your bank’s official website – To ensure the banking app is official, get if from your bank’s website. A link will be available on your bank’s site.
  • Check reviews – Before downloading any app, check reviews or user scores. If an app is malicious, chances are someone has reported it online.
  • Watch for phishing emails – Don’t click links or open attachements from unsolicited emails or texts. They could lead to malware. Instead of trusting a link found in an email to get a banking app, stick with our earlier suggestion and go to the bank’s official site to get it.

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