Prague, September 24: A little girl in the Czech Republic's capital city Prague recently reported a TikTok profile promoting a malicious or scam application, which eventually led to the discovery of a total of seven scam apps on Google Play and Apple's App Store. Before they were flagged, these scam apps had been downloaded over 2.4 million times by people and the developers had earned nearly Rs 4 crore, as per SensorTower. These apps would show advertisements even when they were not in use. TikTok Pro is a Fake App, Steals Users' Data, Warns Maharashtra Cyber Cell as Download Link of TikTok Namesake Goes Viral.
The scam apps, widely promoted on TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms, would mostly target children. These apps were typical adware scams which appeared as entertainment, wallpaper or music apps. Security researchers also identified people with millions of followers on TikTok and Instagram who were promoting these malicious apps. One of such TikTok profiles was reported to Avast’s Be Safe Online project in the Czech Republic by the girl after which security researchers identified more such scam applications on Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. Mumbai Police Bust International Racket Involved in Creation of Fraudulent Social Media Profiles, Sale of Fake Followers And Likes.
"The apps aggressively display ads, or charge users between $2-10 USD. The apps either provide a simple game that just causes the device to vibrate, wallpapers, or music. Some of the apps are HiddenAds trojans, a type of trojan Avast reported on this summer that disguises itself as a safe and useful application but instead serves intrusive ads outside of the app, and hides the original app icon making it difficult for users to identify where the ads are being served from," Avast explained.
Once downloaded on a device, these scam apps would hide their icons so that the user cannot uninstall them. They would forcefully show ads when they were not used. Avast thanked the Prague girl for flagging the TikTok profile promoting a scam app.
"We thank the young girl who reported the TikTok profile to us...It is particularly concerning that the apps are being promoted on social media platforms popular among younger kids, who may not recognize some of the red flags surrounding the apps and therefore may fall for them," Jakub Vavra, threat analyst at Avast, was quoted by Gadgets Now as saying. Security researchers alerted Google and Apple about the scam apps. Google confirmed that these apps were removed from the Play Store.