Most dangerous mobile app stores revealed

March 2, 2020
Posted in Tech
March 2, 2020 Tumelo Moloi

RiskIQ has published its 2019 Mobile Threat Landscape Report – which revealed the mobile app stores that contain the highest number of malicious apps.

“Mobile apps – especially in lesser-known stores – continue to be a significant portion of an enterprise’s attack surface where security teams often suffer from a critical lack of visibility,” RiskIQ said.

The report identified as the app store with the highest concentration of malicious apps, with 61,669 new malicious apps uploaded to the store in 2019.

The Google Play Store had the second highest number – 25,647. However, the impact on its users was limited by its huge number of apps – which stood at 2.9 million as of December 2019.

Qihoo 360’s Zhushou store (25,091), the Feral app store (12,079), and Huawei’s Vmall store (5,972) we also listed in the report.

Fewer dangerous apps overall

The report noted, however, a 20% decrease in blacklisted apps when compared to 2018 – despite more apps being catalogued.

“Blacklisted apps are apps that appear on at least one blacklist such as VirusTotal, which, per its website, inspects files or web pages with over 70 antivirus products and other tools,” RiskIQ explained.

The Google Play Store in particular saw a massive malicious app decline of 76.4%.

As Apple uses an in-depth individual review process for approving apps that can be loaded onto its App Store, the impact of malicious apps on its platform is minimal.

“Apple treats its App Store like Fort Knox and rarely hosts dangerous apps,” the report stated.

How to protect yourself

RiskIQ provided a number of tips to users to protect themselves from malicious apps.

Firstly, users must be discerning and skeptical when downloading anything and passive protection such as antivirus software can help.

RiskIQ also cautioned users to look out for fake apps, which typically have:

  • Excessive permissions – The app requires more permissions than needed for its base functionality.
  • Suspicious developer name – Matching the name of the known developer.
  • User reviews and downloads – Look at what can be expected from a popular and reputable app.

Lastly, the researchers encouraged the importance of maintaining regular backups to keep your data safe.

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