Researchers from Sophos have warned about a new batch of apps that contain dangerous ‘fleeceware’, and could scam you out of thousands
From Google to Samsung, Android smartphones are some of the most popular handheld devices around the world.
Sophos uncovered 23 apps that violate the Google Play Store’s new app policies (scroll down for the full list).
In a blog about the findings, researcher Jagadeesh Chandraiah explained: “The new Google-issued rules are designed to address some forms of deceptive marketing display copy, but they also have some loopholes that permit other behaviour some might consider unscrupulous.”
The dangerous apps use a range of tactics to fleece unsuspecting customers out of money.
Some use a tactic called ‘blind sub’, in which they lure you in with promises of a free trial, but without details of how long the free trial lasts or how much you’ll be charged.
Others use at technique called ‘spam subscriptions’.
Mr Chandraiah said: “You sign up once, and find yourself subscribed to a bunch of different apps as the fleeceware apps advertise one another.
“Users sometimes unknowingly subscribe to hundreds of dollars worth of app subscriptions by clicking buttons like these.”
Meanwhile, another crafty technique sees the app displaying terms and conditions in grey fonts on white backgrounds, making them unreadable.
Mr Chandraiah explained: “While not exclusive to fleeceware, some apps that charge a subscription still display the costs or important terms literally in grey fonts on a white background, or using incredibly tiny fonts that virtually blend into the background of the subscription solicitation on a mobile device.
“In so doing, the publishers perform the letter, but not the spirit, of the rules – they display the full subscription details in a way that the eye trying to read it just naturally wants to glaze over.”
Based on the findings, the researchers are urging Android users to be wary about which apps they download.
Mr Chandraiah added: “Be wary of apps that have short trial and high costs. If you want to unsubscribe from an app trial, please follow the instructions provided by Apple for iOS users or by Google for Android users.”
The 23 dangerous apps