McAfee warns of dodgy app stores and fake Flappy Birds

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McAfee warns of dodgy app stores and fake Flappy Birds

Mobile malware continues to grow and users are putting themselves at risk by downloading from unofficial app stores, according to McAfee.

Most - but not all - apps on official stores are safe. While Android malware has gone up by 33 percent over the past year, the number of malicious apps on the Google Play store has only gone up by 1 percent.

According to Raj Samani, CTO EMEA at McAfee, customers are putting themselves at risk by a combination of risky behaviour and lack of attention to permissions.

"We assume, when we talk about this, that people are downloading apps from official outlets like Google Play and the App Store," Samani told PC Pro. "However, a lot of them are coming from third-party stores, which are very, very popular."

Users turn to such third-party stores to get knock-off versions of popular apps - but those shouldn't be trusted, with McAfee saying 79% of the Flappy Bird clones it sampled contained some kind of malware.

These malicious apps then let the people behind them make unauthorised calls or send unauthorised texts to premium numbers, install additional apps without permission, extract contact list data, track geo-location, and even capture banking data.

Samani also cautioned that consumers can download apps that behave maliciously, but are not malware per se. Some apps requested access to the device's microphone, location data and contact list even though they didn't require them in order to function properly.

"A lot of this is probably lazy development - it's easier to ask for access to everything than pick and choose what your app might want or need," said Samani.

"There comes a question of how you get users to actively agree to terms and conditions and push back against excessive demands like this. Because until they do, there is no reason for developers to stop it," he added.

This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk

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