January 22, 2020
Google Play Store fleeceware Android apps

Over 600 Million Android Users Possibly Victimized by These 25 ‘Fleeceware’ Apps Found in the Google Play Store

More than 600 million people have downloaded these twenty-five Android apps that contain fleeceware, possibility costing them money…

Security researchers from firm Sophos have discovered a new set of Android apps in the Google Play Store containing “fleeceware.” What’s more, the twenty-five malicious mobile application have been installed more than 600 million times by unsuspecting users.

Security Researchers Identify 25 Google Play Store Fleeceware Android Apps

Cybersecurity company Sophos says it’s identified more than two-dozen fleeceware Android apps that charged between $100 and $240 per year for basic functions, such as calculators and QR/barcode scanners.

For those unfamiliar, “fleeceware” is a relatively new term in cybersecurity nomenclature. It refers to mobile applications with an initial free trial period. Ostensibly, people can download and use the programs for free — before being charged after a predetermined time. Sophos notes:

“Because these apps exist in a categorical grey area that isn’t overtly malware, and isn’t a potentially unwanted app (PUA), we’ve coined the term fleeceware, because their defining characteristic is that they overcharge users for functionality that’s widely available in free or low-cost apps.”

However, the scammers behind these apps don’t cancel the trial period and hence, do not receive specific requests from users. This results in charges to people who have gone past the free trial but with no way to cancel. Even people who uninstalled the apps might still be charged, since there’s no real way to opt out.

Here’s a table, compiled by Sophos, of the identified fleeceware apps:

sophos-fleeceware-round-2
Credit: Sophos

Owen E. Richason IV

Covers social media, apps, search and like news. History buff, movie and theme park lover. Blessed dad and husband. Owen is also a musician and is the founder of Groove Modes.          

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