The #1 Android App is a Complete and Total Scam

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 01:05 PM

Until yesterday, the #1 app for Android in the Google Play store was called Virus Shield. As Android is a platform known for security vulnerabilities, Virus Shield promised a one-button solution for protecting your device. There's just one problem. It appears to be a complete and total scam.

Michael Crider at the website Android Police wrote yesterday about how the app had tons of downloads and incredibly positive reviews:

It's got an impressive 4.7-star rating after over 10,000 downloads. The app description says that it "Prevents harmful apps from being installed on your device," "scans apps, settings, files, and media in real time," and "protects your personal information." Oh, and it has a low impact on battery life, and has "No, ZERO pesky advertisements!"

Crider actually decompiled the app's code and found that the only functionality the app has is going from an image of a shield with an X in it to a shield with a check mark in it.

That's it. That's all it does. It doesn't protect your phone from apps. It doesn't even detect apps. Well, I guess it highlights the power of suggestion.

Since the release of the Android Police article, the app has been removed from the Google Play store, but not before bringing in over 10,000 downloads at $3.99 a piece. I don't know how one would go about prosecuting someone for fraud in this situation, but I feel like the app's creator maybe wasn't thinking very hard about publishing this before they went and did it. There's plenty more creepy details of this popular app's complete and total uselessness over at Android Police. Check it out.


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Comments [2]


Theft by deception. The issue with android apps seems to be any sort of functional review of what is submitted. Apple has restrictions in access that help prevent these problems

Apr. 11 2014 11:33 AM
Eric Goebelbecker

"As Android is a platform known for security vulnerabilities..."

Or at least it was, maybe, back in August 2012 when the top link for "android virus" and related searches (the one you used) was written. And of course even that article states that there was (in 2012!) controversy on the issue *in its opening paragraph!*.

Is it possible that you couldn't find anything newer because there is no issue? That maybe that's why no one (other than people that sell antivirus software) have written about it for almost 2 years?

I think the fact that even "functional" antivirus software is a waste of money is part of the story. Even your primary source alludes to this.

Apr. 07 2014 03:29 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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