Updated: Jun 18
As governments around the globe scramble to launch contact tracing to accurately map the transmission of COVID-19 amongst their citizens, this inevitably has led to an invasion of privacy, with applications (apps) about the pandemic being retooled to track a person’s every step. Some governments have even opted to launch a mobile app, which allows users to scan QR Codes at any location they are at, thus accumulating a database of users’ location, allowing the healthcare industry to accurately pinpoint locations or clusters where the virus may have been present.
However, with the increasing multitude of tracing apps also comes the increase in the number of fake apps aiming to stalk your every move.
Researchers have recently discovered an Android app called “corona live 1.1,” which pretends to be the real app.
While people using the app thought they were only receiving constant updates on statistics, the malicious app was in fact tracking them and hacking into their devices. The app opened access to the device’s photos, videos, location, and camera. Camera access would also allow these hackers to take photos and record videos and audio.
However, don’t just think that since this is an application for Americans, that Singaporeans are safe from such malicious hacks.
In reality, such malicious apps have already popped out amidst the flutter of activity and worry this pandemic has brought out. Fake apps that mimic Singapore’s national contact tracing app TraceTogether have popped up online, prompting the local authorities to issue a warning.
In addition, these fake apps have the same branding as the TraceTogether app, but are usually embedded with malicious software such as Trojans or malware, which can be used to monitor users’ activities on their device and steal personal and sensitive information such as passwords and banking details.
Therefore, with hackers capitalising on an increased interest in contact tracing applications as countries progressively move out of their lockdown phase, we should always remain vigilant when downloading any application to our devices.
So here are some tips on how to ensure you are not downloading malicious fake apps:
#1: Observe the Name and Description of the App
There may appear to be more than one app with a similar name.
Ensure that you read the description about the app to spot spelling errors before downloading.
#2: Look for Tags
Tags such as “Editor’s Choice” and “Top Developer” are less likely to be duplicate apps.
You can also visit the publisher website to extra careful before downloading it.
#3: Check the Download Count
Popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook usually have high download counts.
However, if an app has downloads of around 5,000 or less, chances of it being a fake app are higher.
#4: Check Screenshot Previews/Reviews of the App
A fake app is likely to have weird wordings and strange photos in screenshots.
Reviews and ratings will give you an idea as to what users think about it after downloading and using it.
#5: Look at the App’s Publish Date
If it is a new app, it will have a recent publish date.
Most fake apps will have recent publish date, whereas a genuine app will have a “updated on” date.
#6: Observe App Permissions
If the app is asking permissions for camera, audio and more, especially if the app clearly does not require those functions, there is a high chance that it is a fake app.
And if you are still ensure, just click the green button below to ask us about it!
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