10 million Android users tricked by "Updates for Samsung" app

App Store Generated 80% More Revenue than the Play Store in H1, 2019

User reviews suggest you probably should not download the hit "Updates for Samsung" app.

A researcher from Danish security firm CSIS Group called out the app in a blogpost for using mobile ads to earn cash off of this inconsistent pipeline of firmware updates from Samsung to end-user devices.

Apps are big business for everyone, particularly the two biggest distributors themselves - Apple and Google.

Although "first time installs" decreased to 14.8 billion, App Store downloads rose in the second 2019 quarter by more than 3% on 2018. After that, the app asks users to purchase a $34.99 subscription to get the firmware update. This poses a threat to users as their payment data may get intercepted or logged by third-party sites rather than being encrypted by Google's protected payment channel.

As soon as "Updates for Samsung" is opened, it starts displaying a large amount of full-screen advertisement on a WebView window under the domain name updato.com, which usually shows Android-related news.

According to a malware analyst from CSIS Security Group, the app limits the speed of free downloads to 56KBps and the downloads eventually time out.


What is wrong With "Updates for Samsung" App?

Rummaging through the app's reviews, one can see hundreds of users complaining that the site is an ad-infested hellhole where majority can't find what they're looking - and that's only when the app works and doesn't crash.

Kuprins states, "During our tests, we too have observed that the downloads don't finish, even when using a reliable network".

Basically it's a dodgy app that has attracted millions of users through Google's official app store because Samsung isn't providing firmware updates to users itself. What's more unsafe is that the app uses its own payment system instead of directing users to the payment methods offered by the Google Play Store. Google, which previously had to remove numerous malicious apps from the official stores, is yet to respond to the security expert's findings.

Kuprins told us he found the app when he searched the Google Play Store for the word "update", believing the search will most likely surface some bad apps. Plus, the counterfeit app also claimed to unlock any SIM for $19.99.

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