Posted on July 29, 2019 at 12:17 PM
Very early this year when it was first made available for download, it promised so many prospects. Everyone thought it was the Telegram app revamped. Unfortunately, it did not take long for Mobonogram to teach its UAE’s victims a hard lesson they certainly were not prepared to learn.
Mobonogram came into the Android ecosystem with the high promise of being a Super-Charged Telegram App. And from the success that it records from Android users, there is no doubt that people believed its offers. Among the catchy baits of this app was that it boasted of having more features when compared to other “Unofficial Versions.”
Just six months into 2019 when it was released, at least 100,000 Android users have downloaded it to their devices. Of this large number, Iran and the UAE stood out. The reason for the massive acceptance by UAE was probably because the country does not support Telegram yet. Regrettably, the app swindled its unsuspecting victims; it gave them more than they could ever bargain. The first thing the users discovered was that their mobile devices started performing slowly. Again, they noticed that the app contained a code which makes unsolicited calls to suspicious websites. The immediate result of this call was fake adverts and offers.
Symantec Research has now come out this month to call the app what it is-virus. It belongs to a special group known as Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs). Those who make PHAs are unrepentant criminals. And once their unsuspecting victims download the app, they make themselves liable to different kinds of manipulations.
Many Viruses Masquerading as Apps are out There
Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia recently set out to appraise the presence of these pretender apps on the mobile market. The outcome of their findings is nothing short of a shock. They analyzed about 50,000 apps pretending to be as good as other renowned apps. In some cases, these apps even boast of being able to outsmart the existing applications they are mirroring.
However, the result of the research revealed that out of the 50,000 apps considered, 2,040 contained malware, 1,565 had the capacity to compromise security; 1,407 contained unsolicited adverts. When one adds these figures together, they amount to over five thousand, which is 10 percent of the entire set under review. Commenting on the findings, Dr. Suranga Seneviratne-co-author of the research-noted that many of those apps were problematic. As such, they evaded their vetting procedures.
According to Lukas Stefanko, a researcher at Eset Cybersecurity, smartphone users that stay online all day have a greater tendency of being infected with malware. Lukas affirmed that this propensity surpasses that of a PC. Unfortunately, once a smartphone gets infected, it is possible for malware to collect its user’s sensitive information such as bank log-in details.
Apple vs Android: Which is Safer?
It is rational to hope that smartphone OS providers would protect their users by blocking these apps. However, only Apple does the vetting and restriction. With Android, what you get is a one-time warning before you download and install. So, comparatively, Apple offers better protection from these potentially harmful apps than Android. They ensure that their users can only download and install apps that they have confirmed to be genuine.
On the contrary, the market value of Apple is smaller than that of Android. Perhaps, that explains while the criminals have focused their attention on the OS lately. But beyond that, Lukas Stefanko believes that another reason for the massive presence of these apps on Android could be because of its openness. Open platforms allow just anyone, including fraudsters.
Some Protection Mechanisms
While Apple may be a bit safer, it is not completely immune to these apps. Just last year, one of such unauthorized apps also infested Apple’s iOS. It initially masqueraded as an app for Amazon only for Apple to discover that it collects users’ personal information in large quantities.
In the views of Lukas Stefanko, Android users should practice two lines of defense. The first is that they should avoid downloading apps that are not listed on Google Play. Of course, Google would always warn against third-party installations. The second is that users must always keep their apps up to date. Of course, while these may not guarantee absolute safety, it would reduce the rate of infection.