Search engine giant, Google, despite increasing the security to screen fake apps entering Play store, it hasn’t been able to control them. In the latest news, more adware apps masquerading as the Global Positioning System (GPS) & navigation guide with several million installations have been detected.
Prominent malware expert Lukas Stefanko at ESET has unearthed 15 malicious navigation apps with adware and they have more than 50 million installations on Play Store. Shockingly, they don’t even possess a proprietary GPS algorithm of their own and instead use Google Maps, while some do nothing but blast ads on the phone screen.
There also apps, which asks the consumer to pay fees to use the app, which uses Google Maps to show travel routes. This is shocking considering the fact that it violates Google’s policy which clearly states that no app should blatantly use Google or any other brand’s services and they should have a legitimate proprietary service and uniqueness.
If any app violates this policy, they will be taken off the Play Store. Those 15 apps [shown in the screenshot] should have red flagged during the regular Google screening itself. Also Play Protect, which is active in most Android phones still can’t detect these shady apps, its baffling.
Thankfully, after Stefanko’s revelation, Google has already removed some of them. We believe the rest will most likely face the same fate soon.
I believe Google has to scale up the security measure to detect these malicious apps, which will not only affect the user experience, but also hurt the company in the long run, as consumers might switch to Apple iOS. Though the latter is known as ‘high walled garden’, it offers most secured mobile OS ecosystem. Once, consumers make the jump, many will stay put with iOS and over time, will buy Apple’s other devices and there is no coming back.
Given the vast engineering resources, it has and also the stride made in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies, Google can put those in to use to end the menace of fake apps