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Security & privacy

This popular video editing app tried to scam $25 million from users

Are you careful when downloading apps? Installing the wrong apps, especially on open-source platforms like Android, can cause serious harm to your device.

But it’s not just downloading that you need to be wary of. You also need to make sure that you’re keeping your apps up to date. Developers don’t just release new features with updates. They also send patches or fixes for bugs.

If you aren’t staying on top of them, you could be leaving your device open to serious issues. That’s what happened with a popular video editing app recently — and now users are stuck cleaning up the mess from millions of fraudulent transactions. Let’s take a look.

The issue with VivaVideo

Video content is all the rage right now, thanks to platforms like TikTok. In turn, that has caused an uptick in interest in video editing apps as users strive to create the best content possible for posts.

There are plenty of options for video editing apps. One of the more popular Android video editing apps is VivaVideo. It has over 100 million downloads and was recently found to have some serious issues with fraud.

According to the anti-fraud platform Upstream, over 20 million suspicious transaction requests have originated from the VivaVideo app. In total, these charges could have cost users more than $27 million in unauthorized premium charges.

According to the report, the problem stems from an outdated version of the VivaVideo app, which had SDK that would attempt to sign up users for premium subscriptions without approval. The same version of the app also had an issue with invisible ads, which were rolled out to users to generate fake clicks.

The app itself isn’t a scam, though. VivaVideo works like it is advertised, and it has since been fixed with an update. However, the issue still caused some massive problems for millions of users outside of the U.S.

About 1 million devices across the globe were affected by this issue. This problem occurred on a widespread basis in 19 countries, including Indonesia, Russia, the U.K., Thailand and Brazil. The hardest hit was sustained by users in Brazil, with 11.5 million fraudulent transaction attempts originated from the app.

One of the main reasons this issue was so widespread was that the app’s outdated version was distributed via ShareIt, a popular transfer and sharing app. That kept the malicious SDK circulating among smartphone users and allowed the fraudulent transaction attempts to occur.

If Upstream hadn’t caught the issue, it would have cost Brazilian app users about $10.3 million for services and subscriptions in total.

Luckily, Upstream did catch it, so the fraudulent transactions were blocked. The users weren’t charged for these fraudulent subscriptions and services, which kept the issue to a minimum.

Related: Tap or click here to see the mess the last batch of malicious apps created

A reminder to update your apps

This is a good reminder of why it’s important to update your apps when a new update rolls out. If you’re using VivaVideo, you need to head to the Google Play Store and download the latest version of the app to avoid any future issues.

You can avoid issues like these by simply taking the time to update apps when necessary. Don’t wait to update. It only takes a few minutes, max, and you could leave yourself open to issues that are hard to fix if you wait.

You should also only download Android apps from the Google Play Store. This issue was perpetuated, in part, by the ShareIt distribution of an outdated version of the app. It would have been tempered had users downloaded the newer version from Google Play.

It’s also important to read reviews and research developers for any app you download — even if you’re downloading it from the Google Play Store. Other users’ experiences can give you good insight into whether the app is worth downloading. Reviews will also alert you to potential security or bug issues with the app.

If other people are warning about potential issues with an app you want to download, take heed. They’re worth listening to. You don’t want to get caught up in an issue like this. It could have caused millions upon millions in damages without users knowing.

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