Security researchers at Sophos have uncovered a slew of new Android apps that smartphone owners need to avoid like the plague. Categorised as “fleeceware”, the new apps are designed to abuse the ability for apps to begin charging users a subscription fee after a trial to test the service.
As it stands, Android app users have to cancel the trial period manually to avoid being charged for the full subscription. However, the vast majority of users simply uninstall an app when they’re not interested – or want to avoid moving to a subscription. Some might’ve forgotten that they’d even signed up for a trial subscription within the apps when they remove them from their Android smartphones or tablets.
The vast majority of apps developers interpret an uninstall as a signal that users don’t want to continue with the subscription – and cancel the upcoming charges. However, a number of Android developers are deliberately ignoring this signal as a way to generate quick revenue from smartphone owners. Abingdon-based security firm Sophos initially unearthed 24 Android apps that were charging between $ 100 and $ 200 a year subscriptions for the most basic features – calculators (Google includes one on every Android phone) or QR code readers (also built into the Android operating system by default) to make a quick buck from users.
Dubbed “fleeceware”, Sophos has sniffed-out 25 more apps that fall into the category. More than 600 million Android users have downloaded these apps, according to the statistics provided by the Play Store on each. Sophos security researcher Jagadeesh Candraiah believes this is pretty high, likely inflated by a pay-per-install service to boost the numbers and trick more Android users into believing the app is legitimate – and installing it on their hardware.
The apps are:
Astrofun | 500,000+ Installs
Easysnap | 100,000+ Installs
VCUT | 5,000,000+ Installs
Face X Play | 100,000+ Installs
Fortunemirror | 5,000,000+ Installs
Filmigo | 50,000,000+ Installs
GO Keyboard | 100,000,000+ Installs
GO Keyboard Lite | 100,000,000+ Installs
GO SMS Pro | 100,000,000+ Installs
GO Recorder | 5,000,000+ Installs
GO Security | 10,000,000+ Installs
Z Camera | 100,000,000+ Installs
Master Recorder | 1,000,000+ Installs
S Photo Editor | 100,000,000+ Installs
Wonder Video | 10,000,000+ Installs
Clipvue | 5,000,000+ Installs
Filmix | 5,000,000+ Installs
Photo Recovery & Video Recovery | 100,000+ Installs
ScreenRecorder | 5,000,000+ Installs
VRecorder | 10,000,000+ Installs
VRecorder | 10,000+ Installs
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