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Be wary of downloading unknown apps from app stores

Priority Level: 
5 May 2017

You are advised to be wary of downloading unknown apps from app stores. These apps may infect your mobile device with malicious software (malware) that paves the way for an attacker to take control of your device and its contents.  

Security researchers claim to have identified several apps that purport to be guides to popular online games. However, the researchers say these apps actually include malware called ‘FalseGuide’ that aims to create a network of infected devices (known as a botnet). These compromised computers could then be used to perform malicious activities without their owner’s knowledge. This could include sending spam, spreading malware or being used in Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

The researchers claim FalseGuide has infected nearly 2 million devices.

Owners of reputable app stores apply checks to stop malicious apps infiltrating their outlets, but attackers use various techniques to try and bypass these protections.

Staying safe

You can minimise the risk of infecting your smartphone, tablet or other device by installing apps from reputable developers only.

You should review closely each app you are considering downloading for indications it may be fake. Some non-genuine apps may be identifiable by poor grammar or spelling, or by the use of names very similar to those of recognised brands. Check the reviews and ratings for apps you may be considering downloading, and search online for relevant comments or other information. But remember, none of these checks can completely eliminate the risks involved.

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of an app, contact the business the app purports to be from using contact details sourced from official websites or materials.

You should also install and regularly update antivirus software on your smartphone or tablet.

More information

Stay Smart Online has information on protecting your mobile devices.