Windows Phone Store becomes a target for scammers

It seems that it is not just Android Play store that is plagued by fake and malicious apps. Avast has uncovered a handful of fake apps from the Windows Store and the list of application includes popular services like Facebook, Messenger, CNN, BBC and WhatsApp. The worse part of the application is the fact that they are not just fake apps, but they also try to scam the users.

Avast_Fake_apps_windowsAvast has uncovered 58 different applications spread across several categories – and surprisingly all the applications are developed by Ngetich Walter and Cheruiyot Dennis. The modus operandi of the application consist of collecting the user data and display location based advertising, furthermore some of the ads are designed to lead users to submit a purchase request for something new.

Here are a few examples:

1. World News CNN: A quick look at the application will tell you that it is a CNN news application, but it is actually an evangelical message application called “Abundant Life”. When observed carefully we can make out that the app is not from CNN and is from some unknown developer.

2. Fake Avast Antivirus: What better way to attack the phone than posing as an Antivirus application. The fake Avast apps just redirect the users to Avast websites and display the ads thankfully they just redirect to the ads and not do much harm as of now.

It is but obvious that the spammers do this for monetary benefit, which they achieve from showing the ads forcefully to the users, and the fact that the same developer has published several fake apps will work in his favour when it comes to the revenue earned. The apps will also redirect you to spammy websites wherein you are made to download other application, thus earning revenue from the app you download.

How to avoid being scammed

The main question is how to avoid being fooled by these application and the spammy ads. First of all before downloading any app cross check with the reviews, the fake apps already have a lot of negative comments. Secondly take a look at the name of the app publisher in case Facebook app is published by someone other than the company itself just steer away from it. Last but not the least, check out for anomalies in the name or the features it is, but quite possible that fake apps will start bombarding you with ads almost instantly, says Avast.

Mahit Huilgol has been using Windows on PC and Mobile since long. He has been following Microsoft developments from close quarters and loves writing about it.

One Comment

  1. clayto

    I began reporting on this problem on Microsoft and other forums about a month ago, and frankly described it as a ‘scandal’ that Microsoft was allowing its trusted Windows Phone Store to be abused in this way, without apparently taking any action.
    You are doing us a service bringing this to wider attention and providing us with details of suspect apps. Among those I have personally reported on are Avast, Adware Cleaner (the author confirms he has not produced a version for the phone), various versions of WordPad (which is not available for the phone — not however WordPad 10 which is genuine, so far), and fake versions of CCleaner.
    Apart from Microsoft itself I am surprised that the authors have not taken steps to deal with this, at least by publicising it as you are doing. If it develops further surely it will damage their reputations.

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