Fake WannaCry Protection Apps Hit the Google Play Store

By on May 24, 2017

WannaCry was the ransomware attack heard around the world. It impacted more than 150 countries and infected over 250,000 devices running Windows programs. It didn’t, however, affect devices running Android software. But that’s not what some app developers want you to believe, as rogue WannaCry ‘protectors’ have begun to offer protection apps on Google Play for Android users.

First off, let’s make it clear that Android devices cannot be affected by WannaCry. This malware simply cannot harm these mobile devices. However, that hasn’t stopped some developers from taking advantage of the widespread concern and confusion to create fake apps that promise to protect Android devices from this global cyberattack.

When searching for WannaCry on Google Play, multiple new apps appear. Most of these are guides, web views, images, or text reminding us to patch Windows, as well as jokes and wallpapers. However, a few apps claim to “protect” Android devices against this threat, which, need I remind you, takes advantage of a Windows vulnerability.

One example is the “WannaCry Ransomware Protection Antivirus” offering, which the McAfee team looked into, and discovered it provides no value, offers fake features, and tricks unwary users into downloading an app loaded with ads, some of which encouraging you to install more sponsored apps.

Not to mention, the “features” offered by WannaCry Ransomware Protection are simply a repackaged malware scanner, which makes it clear the developers put little time into app development.

And though the McAfee team didn’t find any malware in these apps offering fake protection against WannaCry, it’s important to note that cybercriminals often seize the opportunity of trending topics like this—as we have seen with Flash Player for Android, Pokémon Go, Mario Run, Minecraft, etc.—to distribute malware on official apps markets. So, to make sure you stay safe in the face of fake apps, follow these tips:

-Be careful what you download. Don’t download anything for WannaCry protection unless it’s from a trusted security provider. More importantly, if the issue does not affect your type of operating system, don’t download anything you don’t need to.

-Read app reviews. Before you even download an app, make sure you head to the review section of an app store first. Take the time to read the reviews, and keep an eye out for ones that mention that the app is falsely advertised, or has had issues with security. When in doubt, avoid any app that seems remotely fishy.

-Use a comprehensive security solution. Whether the newest cyberattack is after your computer or your mobile devices, make sure you cover all of them with a comprehensive security solution, like McAfee LiveSafe.

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

About the Author

Gary Davis

Gary Davis is Chief Consumer Security Evangelist. Through a consumer lens, he partners with internal teams to drive strategic alignment of products with the needs of the security space. Gary also provides security education to businesses and consumers by distilling complex security topics into actionable advice. He is a sought-after speaker on trends in digital ...

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