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Sunday, Nov 18, 2012 2:27am
Fake 'Apple' apps appear on Google Play, quickly pulled
For a brief time on Saturday, a batch of apps claiming to be from "Apple Inc." and including all the titles formerly grouped under the headings "iWork" and "iLife" appeared as Android apps on Google's Play store. The apps, which were apparently lightly-disguised scams, were pulled from the store a few hours later. It is unknown how many Android users may have been fooled and downloaded the apps, and its not yet known for what purpose the fake apps appeared (though malware, very common in the Android community, is very possible).

The appearance of the fake apps illustrates a major problem with the Play store which, while not completely unknown on the iOS App Store, is far more rare there. Google does little to no inspection of apps prior to their appearance on the store, which predictably has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of apps later being discovered to harbor viruses, trojans, botware, phishing, scams and other malware. Security firm BT did an analysis last summer and said that up to one-third of the applications on the Play store contain some form of malware, mostly privacy-violating sniffer code that passes along users' personal information without informing the user.

Though Google has apparently installed some form of malware-checker to try and prevent such problems with the Play store recently, security researchers have shown that the initial malware scanner can be easily spoofed, and the appearance of obvious joke or insidious fake apps from "Apple" is a sign that more work needs to be done on the system to detect threats or (at the very least) scamware.

On the plus side, downloads of the fake apps were likely to be limited, since they weren't free (though they were priced at approximately half their actual value). Android users are notorious for not paying for apps, helping to increase the rise of the "freemium" system and often causing long delays in the platform getting some of the better iOS apps ported over.