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Apps deceive users with undue subscription charges; understand | Security

Fleecewares they are applications that abuse the testing period on Android phones and end up applying undue charges to users. Identified by the cybersecurity company Sophos in 2019, some of them are still available for download on the Google Play Store and today total at least 600 million installations.

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Sophos has named the new threat class as fleeceware because the apps in question are not malware at first, they do not behave like viruses, and do not damage or intercept data. The term fleece, in English, makes reference to extortion practiced by the coup in question. The practice explores the rules of the Google store and ends up surprising users with charges that can reach hundreds of reais for simple services and, in many cases, were not even used by the user.

Apps use a trial period to induce the user to pay for expensive subscriptions Photo: Rodrigo Fernandes / TechTudoApps use a trial period to induce the user to pay for expensive subscriptions Photo: Rodrigo Fernandes / TechTudo

Apps use a trial period to induce the user to pay for expensive subscriptions Photo: Rodrigo Fernandes / TechTudo

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Developers from the various fleecewares found in the Play Store offer a simple application that, in a superficial analysis, behaves like any other: the app comes with a trial period that frees up functions so that the user knows the service. After the evaluation, the functions are blocked and, in order to have access to the complete program, you must pay a subscription.

The blow occurs in this transition: if the user has not canceled the registration made at the first login or installation of the fleeceware, end up receiving a full charge, as if you had signed the full service.

It is important to note that apps of this type have identified a gap in the way the Google Play Store works: instead of using an eventual uninstallation of the app as a sign that the user does not want to continue subscribing to the service, the applications completely ignore the removal and perform the undue charges.

The practice was identified by Sophos experts in September 2019: from then on, the first developer caught in the practice took down their apps. On the other hand, a new wave of fleecewares is still available in the Android store.

Fortunemirror: app promises daily horscopo, but charges about R $ 290 per week Photo: Reproduo / Filipe GarrettFortunemirror: app promises daily horscopo, but charges about R $ 290 per week Photo: Reproduo / Filipe Garrett

Fortunemirror: app promises daily horscopo, but charges about R $ 290 per week Photo: Reproduo / Filipe Garrett

One of the fleecewares Next-generation Fortunemirror, a horoscope app that promises daily information about the user's birth chart. The application offers a free three-day trial period if the user does not cancel the registration, the service charges a subscription that reaches US $ 69.99 per week (about R $ 290, in direct conversion).

Other examples of apps are barcode readers or even camera apps with simple filters, charging hundreds of dollars for features often free and offered in native apps, found on entry-level phones.

The list below shows fleecewares identified by Sophos and currently available:

  • Astrofun
  • Easysnap
  • VCUT
  • Face X Play
  • Fortunemirror
  • Filmigo
  • GO Keyboard
  • GO Keyboard Lite
  • GO SMS Pro
  • GO Recorder
  • GO Security
  • Z Camera
  • Master Recorder
  • S Photo Editor
  • Wonder Video
  • Clipvue
  • Filmix
  • Photo Recovery & Video Recovery
  • ScreenRecorder
  • V Recorder

The first tip is to pay attention to what the application offers: be wary of programs that promise access to simple features that your cell phone already handles, or that you find in more famous services, such as photo filters and barcode readers. Photo and video editors are also examples of apps involved in the recommended list to opt for known and reliable options, such as Photoshop Express.

Another important tip, if in doubt about an app, check the reputation of the app and the developer. Some of fleecewares from the list they have a low rating and testimonials from users alerting to extortion after the testing period.

Finally, if you have downloaded an application from the list or any other that offers a trial period and unusual subscription plans, it is worth watching the application's options to effectively cancel your subscription before uninstalling it.

Via Sophos (1 and 2), BGR and TechRadar

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