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Thursday, 24 October 2019 09:59

Dodgy mobile apps found to be on the increase: RiskIQ

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Dodgy mobile apps found to be on the increase: RiskIQ Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

The number of blacklisted mobile apps in the 120-odd mobile stores, examined by security firm RiskIQ on a regular basis, grew from 44,850 to 53,955, a rise of 20%, the company said in its mobile threat report for the second quarter of the year.

Blacklisted apps are those that figure on at least one blacklist, such as VirusTotal, a Google-owned site; files can be uploaded to this site and they are scanned by more than 70 anti-virus engines to indicate whether they are kosher or not.

The report said the percentage of blacklisted apps relative to total number of apps monitored by it grew for the second consecutive quarter, going from 1.95% to 2.1%.

The blacklisted apps carried out actions such as brand imitation, phishing and hosting malware. Apart from this, there were many apps dedicated to deceiving users with bogus messages about tax returns.

One app that was notable was named Exodus and could access pictures and contacts; it was initially designed for Android, but an iOS version later emerged.

RiskIQ said app downloads would reach 260 billion by 2022; it had observed 2,554,616 mobile apps in the second quarter of 2019, a rise of nearly 11% over the first quarter.

The number of apps in the Google Play Store grew by 164,101 in quarter two, 38% less than in the first quarter and 189% less than in the third quarter of 2018. Apple increased its app inventory by 14.3% or 116,210. Of the 106 billion downloads from these two stores, 76 billion were Android apps.

Google always allows some blacklisted apps into its store, but RiskIQ said the company had been increasing its emphasis on safety. Three apps stores — 9Game.com, Zhushou and Vmallapps — were the worst offenders when it came to hosting blacklisted apps, with 95% of the total apps available from 9Game.com being blacklisted.

"As usual, feral apps, or apps not in any store and downloaded directly from the Internet, proved to be exceptionally dangerous, with a 51% blacklist rate," the report said. "Quarter after quarter, the data confirms that apps downloaded outside of the Google Play store and the Apple App Store are riskiest."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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