November 7th 2017
Experts are querying the integrity of Google’s Play Store after a fake version of WhatsApp was downloaded more than a million times. It has subsequently been removed.
To the unsuspecting mobile user, the app – called Update WhatsApp Messenger – appeared to have been developed by the firm behind the authentic version, WhatsApp Inc, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014.
Containing ads for raising revenue for the developer, the app was designed to appear as if it were produced by WhatsApp Inc by using the precise name but replacing the space with a special character resembling a space, undetectable by the average users. The app concealed its presence by creating a blank icon that could not be seen in the apps screen after being installed. A similar technique could be used to distribute malware to mobile devices on to which the app is downloaded.
This is not the first time that the Play Store has hosted malicious apps. A notable instance occurred two years ago with an app disguised as a battery monitor, but actually sent exorbitant premium-rate texts from users’ handsets.