Beware of Fleeceware Apps

Security Researchers discovered a collection of Android apps on Google’s Play Market whose only purpose appears to be severely overcharge users for mobile apps that provide very simple functionality available on low-cost or free apps.

The app developers take advantage of a business model available within the Play Market system in which users can download and use the apps at no charge for a short trial period. When the trial expires, if the user who downloads and installs one of these apps hasn’t both uninstalled the application and informed the developer that they do not wish to continue to use the app, the app developer charges the user.

The fleeceware business model

  • These applications are, basically, simple like QR or barcode readers, calculators, tools to make animated GIFs, or photo editors. In most cases, there are free alternatives from well known vendors already available on the Play Market.
  • When you run any of these apps, the app prompts the user to sign up for a very short free trial period, usually 3 days, through an interface within the app itself. The app makers require you to sign up with payment information.
  • Android app developers didn’t cancel an app’s trial period once the app is uninstalled asapp developers don’t consider the un-installation as the request of discontinuity of services.
  •  Researcher found that apps might have used third-party pay-per-install services to boost install counts and then bought fake five-star reviews to boost their ranking on the Play Store and attract a large number of users.

How to save yourself from being a victim of fleeceware app

  • Check your Play Store payment history time to time.
  • Check reviews before buying an app from play store.
  • Read terms & Conditions carefully before installing the app.
  • Turn on Play Protect feature in play store.

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