Tricksters found a new way to boost the popularity of newly uploaded apps by setting the number of installs as their developer names.
When browsing for apps the user seems the user can see three elements app icon, app name and the developer name, tricksters changing the developer’s name to a number of installs to boost the popularity of the apps.
ESET has spotted hundreds of such Faking Popularity apps on Google Play that misleading users about the functionality and most of the apps contain only the advertisements.
The freedom to set any choice of the developer name has been abused by tricksters to set the fake number of downloads as the developer name that appears trustworthy to users.
ESET spotted a “developer change his name from a fake installation number to an actual developer name over time, which might indicate the trick is used as a temporary measure aimed at boosting the popularity of newly uploaded apps.”
Some app developers use phrases like “Legit Apps”, “Verified Applications”, “Trusted Developers App”, checkmark symbol for boosting the popularity of newly uploaded apps.
The trick is very simple but it will mislead users who download apps based on the popularity and it could be used by misused by malware authors in the future.
Google has developed new detection models and techniques that can identify repeat offenders and abusive developer networks at scale.
In the year 2017 Google blocked nearly 700,000 Malicious Apps that violated Google Play Store policies based on the following categories Copycats, Inappropriate content and Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs).
Users should check for the official number’s of downloads on Google play store and the Google play doesn’t offer verification badge for apps.