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More than a dozen fake GPS navigation apps with 50 million installs are fooling android users

Fake GPS apps

There are a lot of benefits of the modern-day Smartphone app stores. Among these benefits, one of the supposed advantages is to make things easier for brands as well as companies. The benefits include reviewing and ensuring the downloaded software on mobile devices aren’t malicious and harmful.

Nevertheless, when there are more than 2.1 million apps on Android’s Google Play, things get tough to track. And this has led to something extremely devastating. There are at most 19 navigation apps which are the knock-off versions of Google Maps. This navigation software comes with advertisements.

Also Read: Simple phone settings to prevent Google, Apple from tracking your movements

The huge revelation

Lukas Stefanko, the malware researcher of ESET, came up with this revelation on first hand. Stefanko tested around 19, and these apps turned out to be navigation apps. And every single one of these apps has more than 1 million installs. When Stefanko combined the amount of the installation of these apps, it was seen that around 50 million times these apps found its way to the devices.

These applications allow users to map down their routes. They include a speedometer and a compass at the same time. Every last one of the apps relies on Google Map navigation and its related API to get the work done.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I tested over 15 fake GPS Navigation apps with over 50,000,000 installs from <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/GooglePlay?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#GooglePlay</a> that violate Google rules.<br><br>These apps just open Google Maps or use their API without any additional value for user, except for displaying ads.<br><br>Some of them don&#39;t even have proper app icon. <a href=”https://t.co/eeIFQS5IVU”>pic.twitter.com/eeIFQS5IVU</a></p>&mdash; Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) <a href=”https://twitter.com/LukasStefanko/status/1085883872540311553?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The major difference between the knock-off apps and real apps is easy to judge, with the redesigned home screen. The redesigned home screen comes with a tweak and sports a stolen User Interface which functions to serve the ads. Additionally, these apps are efficient enough to mask the fact that the app is running right along the real apps.

Also Read: AI Predicts an unknown Human Ancestor and gives us a peek into the history!

Getting them off Google play!

Some things make everything a little bit concerning. Some of the clones of these Google Maps also ask for permission for accessing the phone dialer of the device. With an addition, these apps also ask permission to access other services which a conventional GPS app doesn’t need. This furthermore leads to a potential security break for the device and eventually the device’s user.

Things become annoying when these apps have a good rating. Most of these apps have more than an overall 4 star ratings. There is a solution, nevertheless. Most of these apps are in direct infringement of Google Maps’ terms of use. The terms generally state that the customer isn’t allowed to recreate or re-distribute the substitutes of Google Maps Core Services.

Since this issue came to light, Stefanko has reportedly found 19 offending apps. There are some of these apps which are still on Google Play for download and installation. Google’s Play Store removed most of these apps though. This has narrowed some great revelations that the big players such as Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. need to know. The disclosure is that some people can gather vivid mapping info. Stefanko still feels that there are still a lot of other apps which are in the shadows. This is not a malware situation instead it is imperative to discourage this practice as soon as possible.

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