Millions of Android phone and tablet users have been caught out by a fake WhatsApp listing on the official Google Play store.
When you download an app, the safest way to do it is always through official means – like the Google Play store. Side-loading apps from third-party websites can be dangerous, so sticking to Google’s own channels is the most sensible way to keep your smartphone secure.
But even apps listed on the Google Play store can cause difficulties for users, as a new scam app recently proved.
An app called ‘Update WhatsApp’ – since renamed to ‘Dual Whatsweb Update’ – has been posted to the Play Store, and downloaded over one million times. Unfortunately, this app has absolutely nothing to do with the official WhatsApp app, and had no input from WhatsApp owners Facebook.
The app mimicked WhatsApp’s own design, but was spotted and revealed as a phoney by Reddit users in a thread on the Android subreddit.
According to Avast security research Nikolaos Chrysaidos, the app was being used as a scam to generate advertising revenue – rather than to obtain any private data or cause damage to users who installed the app.
If you’ve downloaded the app already, it’s probably worth uninstalling it. In the future, be sure to double-check the name of the app, the app developer, and read reviews to make sure there’s nothing amiss before downloading something. You can always try navigating to the app download page through a company’s official website too, for additional safety.
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