A shady Android app that claimed to provide Samsung updates has managed to trick more than 10 million users into downloading it. The app offered a “Premium” subscription to let users receive the Samsung updates at a faster download speed – it isn’t known how much money (if any) was made.
The Android app, which was called ‘Updates for Samsung − Android Update Versions’, has now been “suspended” from the Play Store (via The Verge). The creators of the app had previously stated they would be pulling it themselves due to the inclusion of non-Google payments and to remove the firmware service – now Google seems to have taken the decision out of their hands.
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The updates were listed as free, but the app also offered an annual subscription for $34.99. The subscription would apparently provide access to faster downloads, and charged users by taking credit card details – a way to circumvent using Google’s usual Play Store payments system.
The scam was reported via a Medium post by the CSIS Security Group. The app, which was also chock-full of ads, allowed you to search for any specific updates you may have been after.
The app initially seemed like it would let you download the updates it claimed to offer. However, issues arose when users went to download it, due to excruciatingly slow 56kbps download speeds. At this pace, an update of around 700MB would take four hours.
Though users reported they would rarely get far enough to find this out. The low speed means downloads would often time-out and fail. The app makers instead hoped this would prompt users into stumping up for the paid premium plan.
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Just in case paying for pointless access to updates via a dodgy app wasn’t masochistic enough for you, you could pay for even more services inside the app. It also claimed to offer a SIM unlock service (that would cost you $19.99) as well as advice on authenticating Wi-Fi. Needless to say, ignore these too.
If you’re worried about falling victim to anything similar to this scheme, remember you only need to acquire updates through your Android phone’s operating system. Just go to Settings > About Phone > Software Update to check if one’s available to you.