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Warning! Some apps are malware in disguise

Warning! Some apps are malware in disguise
photo courtesy of shutterstock

Scammers are always finding new ways to infect our gadgets with malware. There are no limits to the lengths they will go to deliver malicious software.

Cybercriminals have even been developing fake apps to trick you into giving them personal information or credit card numbers. One recent example was during the Pokémon Go craze.

These malicious apps are scary. They can cause your gadget to perform erratically or even lock them up altogether with ransomware. Forcing you to pay a ransom to regain control of your important files.

Criminals are likely to create counterfeit apps based on the most popular ones out there. They also try and trick you by making fake apps with titles similar to a store or company, with just a little difference to the fake one. For example, a counterfeit app named Footlocke Sports Co. Ltd., trying to emulate Foot Locker Inc., was recently discovered.

There are some things you can do to avoid these counterfeit or malicious apps. Here are some suggestions that will help.

How to avoid infected apps

App stores

One of the best ways to avoid malicious apps is to stay away from third-party app stores. There have been malicious apps discovered in the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store; however, it's more likely to find them in third-party app stores. That's because third-party stores do little to no vetting of the apps.

Reviews

Most of the popular apps will have reviews by other users in the app store. You can sometimes find reviews by experts online. Reviews are very helpful at pointing out malicious or faulty apps. Obviously, if you find a review warning you that the app contains malware, do not download it.

Check the app's developer

Verifying the name of the manufacturer that developed the app is important. Copycat apps will have a different developer's name than the actual one. For example, Angry Birds is made by Rovio Entertainment Ltd. If you find an Angry Birds app from any other developer, do NOT download it.

For most apps you will be able to find the original developer through a Google search. Many of these developers will have a website where you can find information about its apps, along with contact details and tech support info.

Look for links to the app

As I pointed out earlier in this article, some counterfeit apps are emulating retail stores. A great way to make sure you have the official app of a retailer is to check its site for a link to the app store. Many retailers will have a link on its home page for its mobile app. This will ensure that you are shopping with the retailer's official app.

Check for spelling errors

Cybercriminals are notorious for being terrible at spelling. Before downloading an app, look for misspelled words or unprofessional grammar. If it seems suspicious, do not download it. Reputable companies take their time creating content and don't usually make these types of mistakes.

Update your gadget

Make sure that you have downloaded the latest security and operating system updates. These updates usually include patches to help protect your gadget from the most recent threats.

Tip within a tip: If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, you should check your bank account or credit card statement immediately. If you see any suspicious activity, report it.

Also, you should change your passwords for all of the websites that have your personal data. Make sure your passwords are strong and never use the same one on multiple sites. Click here to find out how to create strong passwords.

More news stories you can't miss:

Look out! Fake store apps fooling millions of shoppers

What to buy (and not to buy) in November

Google's 'gap in user protection' creates playground for malware

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