Alright, Black Friday and Cyber Monday just went by. I hope you still have money left over for lunch tomorrow.
Some of us are crying over counterfeit goods we bought because… it’s too cheap to turn away when we were scrolling through on our phones and laptops.
But what if I tell you that there’s also a counterfeit app? Not just any other app but the one app that we use very much – WhatsApp.
Now, it is very easy to look pass this fake app, just like how you end up buying fake goods online.
Why? You might ask. Because it is available on Google Play Store as “WhatsApp Inc. ”
Yes, the same name as the authentic WhatsApp on Google Play Store, just with a trailing white-space character at the end, if you noticed?
Well, most of us won’t. Unless you’re an OCD when it comes to written English (like me). I can’t stand a space when the space isn’t supposed to be there.
Do you get me?
There should be NO SPACE between a sentence and its ending punctuation, whether that’s a period, question mark, exclamation mark, colon, semicolon, or comma.
Well, if you’re guilty about the error above, then make it your 2018 resolution to change it. That is, if you’re still writing resolutions… I gave up when I was 16.
But it could really save lives and prevent people like me from pulling out our hair when we’re faced with errors like these.
Okay, kidding. But more importantly… you would have noticed the trailing white-space character at the end of the fake WhatsApp app and not download it.
Will you be a victim of this malware?
If you have the older version of WhatsApp on your phone, put down 100 hearts. I mean, rejoice and say your prayer because you won’t likely be affected.
Reason being this: The app won’t upgrade unless it has been signed by the same key which only the developer of the application should have access to. This ensures the integrity of the application you’ve installed and means it should be safe from third-party intrusion.
But if you DON’T ALREADY HAVE Whatsapp on your phone, God knows for what reason… You might want to pay attention to this.
Let’s say you’ve installed “WhatsApp Inc. ” instead of “WhatsApp Inc.”, it will be hidden from the app launcher by way of an empty app_name (in the AndroidManifest.xml file) and a transparent ic_launcher.png file, the application icon.
Just imagine having an app installed but it’s invisible from the naked eye:
But when you launch it from the Google Play Store, “Cold Jewel Lines” application on the Google Play Store, which houses the malware will be launched.
Assuming that you downloaded the “Cold Jewel Lines” application, you will be brought back to fake WhatsApp app where a few other download servers are shown. Nearly every tap serves a new ad to you, deliberately trying to get you to tap on them accidentally.
Watch this video if you want the full story and other tech details:
I guess there’s something we can learn about Google Play Store and iOS App Store, with the latter being the better option of course. *Ahem*
Google Play Store is a little more open, uploading of apps is cheap, there’s a free SDK to work from and a very high app acceptance rate, thus it becomes a much more attractive option to indie developers to work with.
That said, it further opens the platform to malware.
In a nutshell, just beware if ANY application directs you to a different window and requests you to download something else other than the one you want to get.
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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com
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