Kārlis Dambrāns/flickr

Kārlis Dambrāns/flickr

Security company Avast has sounded the alarm on various app scams found on the Windows Phone Store. These frauds could spell problems for your phone and mobile security.

In August, tech security provider Avast issued a warning about mobile scams that were appearing in the Windows Phone Store and other third-party app stores as well. Shortly thereafter, The Stack picked up the story, noting that the, “Windows Phone Store has become a new locus of attention for fake-app scammers deterred by improved security and auditing procedures at analogous stores such as Google Play.”

While the principal focus of these schemes appears to be directing unsuspecting users to ads and adware, these mobile scams could, in fact, be putting your phone’s security at risk.

Security Issues

According to both The Stack and Avast, many of these apps are being falsely marketed under the names of major brands such as the BBC, CNN, Qihoo 360, Facebook Messenger, APUS, and WhatsApp, among others. And while these frauds bombard your phone with ads and adware, they also collect data — more specifically, user location information — which allows scammers to geo-target their ads.

As a result, people are in danger of unwittingly downloading potentially harmful software to their phones. This not only has a negative impact on phone performance, but it could also compromise user privacy and security, opening the door malicious hackers and identity theft.

On the surface, the risk factor for the population at large appears to be minimal. According to IDC, Windows Phones make up only 2.6% of the smartphone OS market share, while Android and iOS represent 82.8% and 13.9%, respectively.

But Android and iOS users aren’t necessarily immune to these dangers — Avast points out that these dangers can arise within any app store and can affect any platform. Going forward, all smartphone users need to approach app downloads carefully and thoughtfully if they don’t want to become the next victim.

Smart App Shopping

Keeping your phone safe while enjoying the latest app is as simple as paying closer attention to the apps that you’re downloading. Most of these scams can be quickly identified and avoided by simply determining who actually developed the app, as opposed to just looking at the app title and clicking “download.”

Moreover, the vast majority of fake apps have numerous reviews indicating that they are, in fact, scams. So take a little extra time and look before you leap — your phone will thank you later.

It’s also important to remember that spotting the fake app is only half the battle — allowing the app to remain in the store will only serve to perpetuate the problem, and other unsuspecting users will undoubtedly fall into the trap. If you happen across what is obviously a fraudulent app, add a comment in the reviews section to warn other users, then bring the scam to the attention of whichever app store you found it in.

If the prospect of downloading a fake app makes you nervous, why not avoid the app store altogether? With Infinite Monkeys, you can easily and affordably make your own, high-quality apps, so you can get the most out of their smartphones without having to worry about the hassle of getting scammed.