Smartphone Antivirus App Revealed As A Fake
April 8, 2014

Google Play Store’s Number 1 Ranked Antivirus App “Virus Shield” Revealed To Be A Fake

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Security on smartphones has become as essential as security on a PC. You make sure you have virus protection on your computer, and that it stays up to date. The same is increasingly true on a smartphone. And sadly this week one of the top antivirus apps for the Android platform, Virus Shield, was identified as a fake.

Virus Shield made it to the well-respected number one new paid app position in the Google Play Store in just a week, with over 10,000 downloads, Android Police reports. The app even received a 4.7-star rating. Then it was identified as a scam.

"There's just one problem: it's a complete and total scam. We don't mean in the slightly skeevy way that some anti-virus and general security software overstates dangers and its own necessity. We mean it's literally a fake security app: the only thing that it does is change from an 'X' image to a 'check' image after a single tap. That's it. That's all there is, there isn't any more," wrote Android Police's Michael Crider.

The app, Virus Shield, costs $3.99 on Play. Free apps such as Android Defender, Device Shield and Virus Sushi help protect your Android device. Even prominent antivirus companies such as Sophos, AVG, Avast and Webroot offer free and paid versions of their antivirus software for Android devices.

Unfortunately the reviews and ratings for the app were positive, which encouraged more downloads and more positive ratings. The claims for Virus Shield, which was released at the end of March, were extensive, Daily Tech reports.

• Prevents harmful apps from being installed on your device.
• Scans apps, settings, files, and media in real time
• Protects your personal information
• Strong antivirus signature detection
• Very low impact on battery life
• Runs in the background
• No, ZERO pesky advertisements

The perpetrator in this case, the creator of Virus Shield, which rose to the number one spot of paid downloads inside of a week, is actually a 17-year old kid, according to Daily Tech. Android Police was able to identify an email address for the Virus Shield developer as [email protected], however he was unable to uncover more information on the individual. Daily Tech was able to uncover a few more details, however.

"A search with the original email turns up an account on Powerbot (a Runescape hacking site) from a male claiming to be 22. But further investigation indicates the master scammer was really just a 17-year old kid currently living somewhere in the Fort Worth area," wrote Daily Tech's Jason Mick.

Google has some fault, for not vetting the apps that are posted in the Play Store. "Whoever the faker is the, the fact that over $50,000 USD were lost to a fraud artist is a pretty big concern for Android and raises some natural questions," wrote Mick.

Mick suggests that users vet their own apps, particularly security apps, by verifying a web presence for the developer, among other actions.

"The report also raises question on Google's end. Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has drawn criticism at times for watching the iTunes App Store like a hawk and policing top ranked apps for signs of controversy and fraud. At times it goes too far, certainly, but it does do a pretty good job making sure its users are stricken with such obvious fraud attempts," wrote Mick. "While Google's pre-screening has gotten much better and relatively little malware slips through into Play Store, Google is perhaps too laissez-faire about not weeding out fakes from the ranks of its top apps."