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Thousands of risky copycat apps identified on the Google Play store



A two-year survey has discovered 2040 malware-laden fake apps on the Android App Store, Google Play.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and CSIRO's Data61 examined more than a million apps available on Google Play and discovered a large number of imitated popular games and contained malware.

Other fake apps were malware-free, but requested "dangerous" data access permissions. Play Temple Run, Free Flow and Hill Climb Racing were among the most fake.

The researchers used neural networks to identify visually similar app icons and partially plagiarized text descriptions of the 10,000 most popular apps in the Play Store. The machine learning model "Multimodal Embedding" threw 49,608 potential counterfeit coins.

The potential counterfeits were then checked for malware using the online malware analysis tool VirusTotal's private API. While 7246 was labeled by at least one antivirus program, scientists used a "relaxed threshold" that left them with 2040 high-risk, fake apps.


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