Researchers from Avast have discovered hundreds of fleeceware mobile apps on Apple and Google store. Such apps aren’t malware in the traditional sense as they do not cause any direct harm, however, they trick users into paying huge subscription fees.
What has happened?
Avast researchers have found a total of 204 fleeceware apps on both Apple and Google stores which have earned over $400 million to date for their developers.
- Around 134 apps have been spotted on Apple's iOS platform, which had 500 million downloads with projected revenues of $365 million.
- On Google Play Store, around 70 fleeceware apps have been identified with 500 million downloads with projected revenues of $38.5 million for the time they have been active.
- Most fleeceware apps are being offered as astrology, photo and filter software, horoscopes, music lessons, QR code/PDF document scanners, cartoon creation, and video clip editing apps.
Fleeceware app lures
- Most of these fleeceware apps analyzed by Avast were offering a three-day trial before subscriptions started.
- Once a trial is over, the user is charged a recurring high subscription fee to generate revenue for the developers.
- The subscriptions usually range from weekly to monthly charges that start from $4 to $12 per week. In some cases, it is as high as $66 a week, totaling to as high as $3,432 per year.
As the development of such apps is not illegal, it can be challenging for users to figure out how to avoid unwanted subscription charges. The best way, as recommended by experts, is by staying aware and avoiding the installation of any unreliable apps. Therefore, users are recommended to keep a strict check when opting to install such applications.