News Article

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

IS alert: Tips on protecting your devices from malicious applications

In recent weeks, the number of fake/bogus reviews on app stores is on the rise, leading some unsuspecting device owners to download malicious applications. Fake reviews can instill a sense of false confidence that an application is good or well-liked by other people using it and may cause someone to download an application with malicious content.


Once you download a malicious application on your smart phone, tablet or computer, the malware can:

  • Record your keystrokes;
  • Read your email;
  • Take snapshots of what’s displaying on your screen;
  • Browse through all of your files and photos;
  • Install other malicious software.

If you use your personal device to receive and send work related information, it could put organizational and even patient information at risk.


Most recently, an influx of bogus 5-star reviews on the Google Play store is causing concern. At least one commonality in some of these malicious reviews is that they seem to be related to “gaming content.”  Similar phrases across several reviewers is one way to help spot a fake review. While the issue on the Google Play Store is specifically applicable to Android devices, it’s been discovered that iTunes and other repositories of apps for smart phones, tablets and other devices are also susceptible to these types of actions.


Identifying a bogus review is more of an art than a science, but here are some more tips that can help tell a real review from a fake:


1, What appears to be multiple reviewers using the same phrases or terminology may be coming from the same source.


2, Reviews that include a lot of exaggerations and generic phrases, but do not include much detail specific to the product. Examples: “life changing,” “gaming content,” “best app ever,” etc.


3, Products with a lot of 5-star and 1-star reviews, but not much in the middle. Legitimate product reviews are usually more balanced with fewer outliers.


4, If you're suspicious, take time to review the reviewers. Be on the lookout for:

  1. Reviewers who have only written one review on the site, as many automated fake reviews will create a new reviewer name for each review.
  2. Reviewers who only write 5-star reviews.

It’s smart to avoid apps or products that have a lot of fake reviews. While many of these are just used to boost a product’s sales, others can be malicious in nature and it is difficult to separate the two. If you suspect there are fake reviews on an app you’re interested in, it’s best not to download the application.