17-year old scams thousands with fake Android AV app

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 08 2014 @ 11:37 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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DailyTech reports a 17-year old Texan managed to get a number one position on AppBrain's paid app charts with a fake antivirus app. The Virus Shield program, which comes in at just 859KB, was downloaded over 10,000 times in its first week, it promised to run in the background and have a very low impact on battery life.

The app delivers on its promise to have a very low impact on battery life, basically because it does nothing at all. Upon investigation by Android Police, it was discovered that Virus Shield doesn't contain any security-related features at all.
Android Police's writer downloaded the app and decompiled it, which is pretty easy to do in Android with standard developer tools. What he found was that the app did have some of the features promised -- but basically just the ones that had nothing to do with security.

It's true it had no ads, and it likely used next to no battery life.

The issue was that it used next to no battery life because it was quite-literally doing nothing. The app appeared to have no real security features whatsoever, just feel-good 100-percent digital snakeoil.
The success of this scam app raises new questions about Google's pre-screening of Play Store apps. While the search giant does a pretty good job at keeping malware out, it seems harsher control is needed to prevent such obvious fraud attempts from hitting the app store.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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