Android App Devs Find Clever Trick for Fooling Users Into Installing Their Crapware

An expert in Android security is warning users that some developers of crappy Android apps have come up with a new trick for fooling users into installing their apps.

The trick relies on app devs registering Google Play Store developer accounts that mimic install counts, instead of their real name, such as “1 million installs,” Installs 1,000,000,” “100,000,000 Downloads,” “5,000,000+,” “1,000,000,000” and other similar formats.

The idea is that the official Google Play Store lists an app entry by displaying the app’s icon, name, developer name, and a star rating.

Sneaky devs creating a fake sense of safety

By replacing the developer name with a faux install count, some developers are trying to fool users into thinking the app is extremely popular, and hence, somewhat safe to use.

But in reality, they are not. According to ESET malware researcher Lukas Stefanko, most of the apps using this trick that he analyzed were mostly adware. The majority were just empty shells, with little to no functionality except for showing ads on top of other apps or the user’s screen.