Almost exactly two months ago, we reported on some fake apps found in the Windows Phone Store. Unfortunately, the news hasn’t stopped there – instead, it seems that this third-party app store is becoming an increasingly popular platform for the bad guys. Today, we‘ve uncovered quite a large set of fake apps which includes scams imitating legitimate popular apps such as Facebook Messenger, CNN, BBC, and WhatsApp.
There are two perpetrators behind these fake apps: Ngetich Walter and Cheruiyot Dennis. Between the two of them, they have 58 different apps available in the Windows Phone Store, all of which are fake. The majority of the apps have certain things in common — they collect basic data about users and display various advertisements that are mostly driven by a user’s location. A portion of the apps try to lead users to pages that force them to submit a request to purchase something. Let’s take a closer look at two of them:
Scammers rob elderly victims of an estimated $3 Billion per year.
A scam that has been around since at least 2008 is still active and targeting elderly folks. Seventy-four year old Avast evangelist, Bob Gostischa, who knows a thing or two about scams, security, and privacy, received a call just yesterday from a scam artist attempting to steal money. “If it happened to me, I’m sure it’s going to also happen to others,” said Gostischa.
Here’s the basic premise:
Someone either calls or emails pretending to be your grandchild. The typical story is that they have been wrongfully arrested and need bail money wired right away. Another variation says they are traveling and have been mugged or even in an accident and badly injured. After going through this frantic sob story, and if they sense that their victim is falling for it, the scammer asks for money to be wired through services such as Western Union and MoneyGram.
After the phone call ended, Bob sent us a transcript so we could share it with Avast Blog readers. “I consider myself lucky because the first instinct was wow, how can I help her…?,” he said. “I guess we all really need to be very vigilant at all times.”
Caller: Hello Grandpa, this is your granddaughter. I have laryngitis so I don’t sound like myself
Bob: You certainly don’t. Which granddaughter?
Caller: What do you mean?
Bob: Well, I have several. Read more…
Although it’s possible to use third-party apps stores safely and securely, the fact that scams do still occur in a variety of app stores shouldn’t be ignored. On Sunday, a threat was discovered by a user who posted the issue on our forum. The scam, located within the Windows Phone Store, advertised three fraudulent versions of Avast Mobile Security. These fake apps not only include the Avast logo, but also feature actual screenshots from AMS in their image galleries. Our fast-acting team has since blocked the pages and has labeled them as malicious.
Fake AMS apps collect personal data and redirect users to adware
If downloaded, these fake versions of AMS found on the Windows Phone Store pose a risk to users’ security. Here’s how they work:
- New Avast security: This app includes three control buttons which show only advertisements. Even without actively clicking on the ads, the app redirects users to additional adware.
- Avast Antivirus Analysis: Claiming to “protect your phone from malware and theft”, this malicious app runs in the background of victims’ devices once downloaded and collects their data and location.
- Mobile Security & Antivirus – system 2: Simply put, this is a paid-for version of “New Avast security” that forcibly leads users to adware.
It’s a common belief (and myth) that Apple products are invincible against malware. This false line of thinking has recently again been refuted, as iPhone and iPad users have been encountering a ransomware threat that freezes their Internet browsers, rendering their devices unusable. The ploy, commonly known as iScam, urges victims to call a number and pay $80 as a ransom to fix their device. When users visit an infected page while browsing using the Safari application, a message is displayed saying that the device’s iOS has crashed “due to a third party application” in their phone. The users are then directed to contact customer support to fix the issue.
How to clean your system if you’ve been infected by iScam
- Turn on Anti-phishing. This can be done by visiting Settings > Safari and turn on ‘Fraudulent Website Warning’. When turned on, Safari’s Anti-phishing feature will notify you if you visit a suspected phishing site.
- Block cookies. For iOS 8 users, tap Settings > Safari > Block Cookies and choose Always Allow, Allow from websites I visit, Allow from Current Websites Only, or Always Block. In iOS 7 or earlier, choose Never, From third parties and advertisers, or Always.
- Clear your history and cookies from Safari. In iOS 8, tap Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. In iOS 7 or earlier, tap Clear History and tap Clear Cookies and Data. To clear other stored information from Safari, tap Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data > Remove All Website Data.
Check out Apple’s support forum for additional tips on how to keep your device safe while using Safari.
Fake Flash Player updates fool Facebook users.
Facebook users have fallen victim to a recycled scam, and we want to make sure that all of our readers are fore-warned. Cybercrooks use social engineering tactics to fool people into clicking, and when the bait comes from a trusted friend on Facebook, it works very well.
Here’s how the scam works – your friend sends you an interesting video clip; in the latest iteration you are tagged and lots of other friends are also tagged – this makes it seem more trustworthy. The video stops a few seconds in and when you click on it, a message that your Flash Player needs to be updated for it to continue comes up. Since you have probably seen messages from Adobe to update your Flash Player, this does not raise any red flags. Being conscientious about updating your software, as well as curious about what happens next in the video, you click the link. That’s when the fun really begins.
The fake Flash Player is actually the downloader of a Trojan that infects your account. Security researcher Mohammad Faghani, told The Guardian, …” once it infects someone’s account, it re-shares the clip while tagging up to 20 of their friends – a tactic that helps it spread faster than previous Facebook-targeted malware that relied on one-to-one messaging on Facebook.”
How to protect yourself from Facebook video scams
Don’t fall for it. Videos that are supposedly sensational or shocking are also suspect. Be very cautious when clicking.
Does your friend really watch this stuff? If it seems out of character for your friend to share something like that with you, beware. Their account may have been infected by malware, and it’s possible they don’t even know this is being shared. Do them a favor and tell them about it.
Be careful of shortened links. The BBB says that scammers use link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t recognize the link destination, don’t click.
Use up-to-date antivirus software like Avast Free Antivirus with full real-time protection.
Report suspicious activity to Facebook. If your account was compromised, make sure to change your password.
Some webpages are giving away free codes for Playstation Network and Steam but, are they reliable?
At Avast we discovered a lot of webpages offering free codes, with a value from $20 to $50, for Playstation Network and Steam, two of the most important internet-based digital distribution platforms. Those webpages look very suspicious so we decided to analyze them.
We chose one of those webpages and followed all the steps required in order to get our “free code” for Playstation Network or Steam.
After a first look at the main page, we found some suspicious items. To prove how trustworthy the transaction is, the webpage placed two security “certifications” in a visible location, but as we discovered, no security companies are associated with those certifications. They are completely fake!
Also, there’s a label with user ratings (4 ½ stars!), but we cannot rate the webpage; it’s just an image. Both fake images make the users think that they are in a safe and reliable website.
What happens when we click on a gift card? Are we going to receive the code?
The answer is no.
Let’s see what’s next:
When we click on a gift card¸ instead of receiving the promised free code, we are asked to share a link with our friends in order to unlock the code.
Why do they do that?
When we share the link we are contributing to an increase in the number of visitors and, of course, the number of people that will try to redeem the “free code.” Keep this in mind, it will be important at the end of this post.
Ok, we already invited 5 of our friends and, in theory, we unlocked the code. Is this the last step? Are we going to receive the code now?
Again, the answer is no.
Looks like they don’t want to give us the code. Suspicious, right? So, what do they want now?
As we can see in the image, in order to receive our PSN code, we need to complete a short survey (like inviting 5 friends wasn’t already enough?!).
When we click on one of the surveys, a little pop-up with a message appears on the top of the screen. The message says: “You must use your VALID information while filling this offer out”.
Why do they need our VALID information?
Here’s the reason:
In order to receive the code, we need to introduce our phone number – our VALID phone number. But wait, before doing that, let’s read the text at the bottom of the page.
Surprise! It’s a premium SMS service with a total amount of 36,25€/month (>$40/month)! If we enter our phone number, we will be automatically subscribed to this premium service.
Remember the 5 friends you sent the link to? Well, now imagine how many people can fall into this scam just by sharing a link to 5 friends: 5+(5*5)+(5*5*5)+… creepy, right?
And of course, there’s no free code for your PSN or Steam accounts.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of webpages using the same method to get user’s money. Also, there are other webpages offering software to generate codes. Cybercrooks create those
fake apps and get money from “download servers” because they bring
Tonda Hýža, from the AVAST Virus Lab, described those webpages as Adware due to the big amount of lies, advertisements and weird privacy policies.
Make sure you share this alert with your gamer friends J
It only took Apple 24 hours to get 4 million pre-orders of the new iPhone 6, and scammers were right there with them to cash in.
In the newest iteration of a scam used every time a new product is launched with fanfare, Facebook pages have been popping up claiming that people who like, share, and comment on a post can win an iPhone 6.
This type of scam is referred to as like-harvesting. The scammer makes the page popular by collecting likes and then sells the page to other scammers. The offer of a new device, like the iPhone 6, entices people to click the like button then spam their friends with the bogus promotion. Thousands of likes can accumulate within a few hours, making the page quite valuable on the black market. The new owner rebrands it to peddle more questionable products and services with their built-in audience.
A variation on this scam is the Survey Scam. As with like-harvesting, you must first like the Facebook page. The difference is that you need to also share a link with your Facebook friends.
This link takes you to a page where you are instructed to download a “Participation Application.” Generally, a pop-up window leads you to participate in a survey before you can download the application. Some surveys will ask for personal information like your mobile phone number or name and address. If you provide those details, you open yourself up to expensive text-messaging services, annoying phone calls, and junk mail. In some cases, the download contains malicious code. The only thing you can be guaranteed not to get is an iPhone 6! Meanwhile, the scammer earns money for every survey through an affiliate marketing scheme.
What to do if you liked a ‘Win iPhone 6′ page
If you fell for the scam, then learn from it and don’t do it again! Make sure you unlike the page, delete comments that you made, and remove the post from your news feed. You may also want to alert your friends to the scams, so they don’t fall for it.
Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.
Earlier this month, we told you about a spear phishing campaign specifically targeting banking customers in Czech Republic, and now a similar scam is targeting bank customers in Finland.
This weekend, Aktia, Nordea, and Nooa Säästöpankki customers received text messages and emails informing them that their online banking services were being discontinued because of a payment in default. The message said the payment had to be made immediately to avoid this. The victims were then instructed to follow a link in the email where they could enter their ID and bank access codes including PIN. The victim was promised that a representative of online banking services would call to confirm after the payment was received.
So far, 500,000 euros has been stolen. Of course, there is no default payment and the whole thing is a hoax to earn cybercriminals money. Within the last month, 95 percent of the victims have been women, said Detective Superintendent Jukkapekka Risu from Helsinki Police to the Helsinki Times.
What you need to know to protect yourself
Do not click on links, download files, or open attachments in emails from unknown senders. Phishing websites often copy legitimate websites so they appear authentic. To be safe, call the bank to find out if they really sent that email to you.
Do not call the number in the email. It can easily be faked. Look up the real number of your bank and call using that.
Banks will not ask for customer names or IDs by email, text message, or phone. If you have fallen victim to the scam message and have volunteered information, please contact your bank immediately.
Protect your computer with a firewall, spam filters, antivirus and anti-spyware software. Both avast! Internet Security and avast! Premier have these important features. SafeZone is an additional security feature in avast! Pro Antivirus, avast! Internet Security and avast! Premier, which allows you to browse the web in a private, secure environment, invisible to the rest of your system. For example, if you do your banking online, you can be sure that your personal data cannot be monitored by spyware or key-logging software.
Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our business products.
By now, we are all familiar with Facebook scams that claim to give your Newsfeed a designer look. Remember Facebook Red or Facebook Black? Those pretty themes ended up spreading spam and malicious links via online surveys and fake videos. Today, the AVAST Virus Lab experts discovered a unique variety– the Facebook Music Theme Scam.
The Facebook Music Theme Scam is supposed to change the theme and add a song to your Facebook page. But when our Virus Lab expert, Honza Zika, investigated, he got more than danceable music tracks, “What this code does is modify Facebook. It automatically liked 32 photos, people, groups, … See my activity log, that is just half of it.”
Yes! What a lucky day! I’ve just got a message that I won 2,000,000.00 British Pounds (2.4M EUR/3.1M USD), an Apple laptop, a T-shirt, and a cap emblazoned with a logo of The Free Lotto Company. Pretty awesome you might think, but appearances are deceptive. Unfortunately, this is just one of the ways bad guys try to get some of our money.
Well, I was thinking, it‘s worth a shot. So I decided to write to the email address and see what would happen. Actually, the hardest part was a making up a fake name for myself! You would never believe how rough this might be. In the end, I decided to call myself Robert Konmed.
Here’s how the conversation went down.
Me: Hello, I’ve got a winning message with information to contact your email address. How can I pick up my prize please? Thank you, Robert Konmed
Bad guys: Please find attached document for info to contact courier delivery company: EMAIL:firstname.lastname@example.org Regards Brian Calton
Me: Hello guys, I’m really excited about a winning prize. But would be possible to tell me how much I should prepare for a delivery company? And also I’m curious if there is possibility to charge delivery from my winning prize? Thank you & have a nice day! Best regards! Robert Konmed Read more…