76% less malicious apps blacklisted

A RiskIQ report reveals how malicious apps have declined by 20%

The number of malicious mobile applications proliferating on the open web has decreased by 20%, a new report from RiskIQ has revealed.

In an analysis of over 120 mobile app stores, RiskIQ said that while the volume of apps had increased by 18% worldwide, defenses against malicious apps had improved substantially.

This is according to RiskIQ’s 2019 Mobile Threat Landscape report, which measured the number of blacklisted, or filtered, apps in 2019 and the multifaceted efforts to protect against them.

Google’s Play Store witnessed the sharpest decline of malicious apps, with 76% fewer blacklisted year on year, dropping from 108,770 to 25,647 between 2018 and 2019.

The biggest repository of malicious apps was the Android games portal 9Game.com, with 61,669 apps blacklisted. The store was also the place where consumers were most likely to download a malicious app.

Feral apps, Huawei’s Vmall, Xiaomi, and Qihoo 360’s Zhushou were other stores where malicious app concentration was deemed dangerous.

The report also noted that “Apple treats its App Store like Fort Knox and rarely hosts dangerous apps”.

Users getting ‘fleeced’

RiskIQ cited some particularly egregious mobile trends, including consumers being deceived into downloading adware, apps masquerading as trusted brand names, particularly around US holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and ‘fleeceware’ apps that overcharge users until they are uninstalled.

“Users should be discerning and skeptical when downloading anything and have passive protection such as legitimate antivirus software along with regular backups,” the report concluded.

It advised mobile users to be suspicious of apps requesting excessive “permissions that go beyond those required for its stated functionality” and those which had “a suspicious developer name, especially if it does not match the developer name associated with other apps from the same organization”.

It added that “user reviews and number of downloads” can offer some “reassurance that the app is legitimate”.

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