Researchers Found Seven More Fleeceware Apps On Google Play Store

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Android maker Google isn't quite done dealing with malware apps that are plaguing its Google Play Store.

Android is one of the most popular mobile operating systems. With billions of users and millions of developers from around the world, Google somehow failed numerous times in policing its platform.

And with that, 'fleeceware' apps are again found on the app store.

This time, security researchers again found more instances of 'fleeceware' apps on the app store.

To be exact, researchers from security firm Avast found seven fraudulent apps found in the Google Play store that offer skins and wallpaper for games but charge as much as $120 a month.

In a blog post:

"Our team has identified a wave of malicious mobile applications in the Google Play Store targeting gamers, particularly fans of the popular Minecraft video game. These so-called “fleeceware” applications offer new skins, colorful wallpapers, or modifications for the game, but disproportionately charge users hundreds of dollars per month."

Developers know that when users install an app with subscription, simply uninstalling the app won't stop the subscription from commencing. To stop the billing, users need to first cancel the subscription, and then uninstall the app.

In other words, without doing this, users will have to pay the price set by the developer of the app after the trial period.

'Fleeceware' apps here, are apps that exploit this loophole on free trial period to charge exorbitant prices to users.

And these seven apps, were found after Google updated its policies and introduced new approaches to cut down these fleeceware.

In other words the developers of the apps could still use sly tactics to slip past Google's own protections.

One of the seven apps identified by Avast has a subscription fee of $90 a year, but others charge a whopping $30 a week, adding up to $120 a month, or a staggering $1,440 a year.

These apps are also called fleeceware, not only because of their extremely expensive prices, as they also don't provide anything special or unique.

7 fleeceware Android apps

In this case, four of the apps serve up content for the popular game Minecraft. Two of them have skins and content for the online game Roblox. And one app teases HD and 3D wallpaper for users' Android phone:

The developers behind these apps expect users to forget about them after the free trial or neglect to notice the high subscription cost, according to Avast.

Fortunately, there are warning signs. Some of the developers are up front about the cost as five of the apps mention the weekly $29.99 subscription fee in the description. This happens most likely due to Google's policy update.

All of the apps except for one have an overwhelming number of negative reviews, which usually indicates a scam or other suspicious activity.

"Scams of this nature take advantage of those who don't always read the fine print details of every app they download," Ondrej David, malware analysis team lead at Avast, said in the blog post.

"In this case, young children are particularly at risk because they may think they are innocently downloading a Minecraft accessory. We urge our customers to remain vigilant when downloading any app from unknown developers and to always carefully research user reviews and billing agreements before subscribing."

For Android users who have downloaded any of the seven apps, they must not only uninstall the app, but also cancel the subscription. They can do this by accessing 'Subscription' in the Google Play Store app.