Danger! Hackers Are Using Fake Apps to Take Your Money

Hackers Are Using Fake Apps to Take Your Money

Don’t fall victim to these sneaky attacks—protect yourself now!

Are you an app junkie who can’t resist downloading the latest app? Well, think twice before you hit that install button! Not all apps are created equal, and some are downright dangerous and could leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks that could cost you everything. Even with Google’s efforts to bolster security measures and raise user awareness, hackers have gotten savvy at creating malicious apps that look legitimate but can steal your sensitive information in a heartbeat. 

In October 2022, cybersecurity company ThreatFabric revealed five fake apps that hackers are using to rob people blind: File Manager Small, Lite, My Finances Tracker, Zetter Authentication, Codice Fiscale 2022 and Recover Audio, Images & Videos. These dubious applications can gain access to login credentials, account numbers and other financial secrets. Unfortunately, these five apps are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many more fraudulent apps lurking out there. In this article, we will discuss the various types of fake apps on Google Play and how to protect yourself from falling prey to them.

File Manager apps

File manager apps are a convenient tool for managing files on your phone, but they can also be a potential security risk. Some fraudulent file manager apps allow hackers access to your login information. 

In November 2022, Bitdefender, a Romanian cybersecurity company, reported a list of malicious file manager apps found on the Google Play Store, with the U.K. and Italy being the top hotspots for downloading them. These apps include X-File Manager (which had 10,000 downloads before it was removed from the store) or FileVoyager and LiteCleaner M (5,000 and 1,000 downloads, respectively). These apps target banking apps like Bank of Ireland, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, BNL, HSBC U.K., Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank and Santander.

Fake ChatGPT apps

ChatGPT skyrocketed to become one of the hottest topics in the tech world due to its remarkable ability to mimic human conversation. However, its widespread popularity has also made it a target for scammers looking to make ‌quick profits. After OpenAI launched ChatGPT Plus, a paid tier costing US$20 per month for individuals who wanted unrestricted access, these fake apps took the opportunity to trick users into providing account credentials in exchange for free access to the premium version of the chatbot.

It is crucial to remember that there are currently no official mobile or desktop apps for ChatGPT, and users should exercise caution when seeking out unauthorized versions. 

Fake play-to-earn gaming apps

Play-to-earn mobile gaming apps have become a new hunting ground for hackers, warns the FBI. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports that cybercriminals are luring victims into fake gaming apps with the promise of cryptocurrency rewards, only to make off millions of dollars in Bitcoin.

Cybercriminals are known to build trust with victims before introducing them to the app, where they then convince them to purchase cryptocurrency and create a wallet. The scammers will tell their victims that the supposed benefits will rise as they deposit more funds into the wallet, but this is all just a ploy to empty the wallet in the end. Furthermore, they may promise victims a way to recover their investment by paying additional fees or taxes, but it’s a scam that leaves victims with nothing.

How to protect yourself from these apps

As hackers become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics, it is important for mobile users to take extra steps to protect themselves from the dangers of fake apps. One way to do this is by reading reviews of an app before downloading it can help you identify potentially dangerous apps. If there are a lot of negative reviews or the reviews seem fake, beware! Moreover, pay attention to the permissions an app is asking for. If an app is asking for more permissions than it needs, be suspicious. 

Keeping your device and apps up-to-date with the latest security patches is also important, as this can help close any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. Finally, consider using a mobile security app that offers features like malware scanning and anti-theft protection to give you an extra layer of protection.

What to do if you’ve been hacked

Being hacked can be a terrifying experience, but taking immediate action can help minimize the damage. First, change all of your passwords, especially if you use the same password for multiple accounts. Next, contact your bank or credit card company and inform them that your account has been compromised. They can help you cancel any fraudulent charges and prevent any future attacks. Finally, run a virus scan on your device to detect and remove any malicious software that the hacker may have installed.

The fake app epidemic is rampant, and hackers are using them to take your money. To protect yourself, be sure to exercise caution when downloading apps and pay attention to the permissions an app is asking for. Always err on the side of caution; if something seems suspicious, don’t take the risk of installing it!

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Header image courtesy of Freepik


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