Two adware that offered consultation to Bolsa Família were removed from the Play Store on Wednesday (22). The suspicious applications allowed to check data from Bolsa Família beneficiaries, such as amount and payment date, but an investigation by the cybersecurity company PSafe indicated that both services profited from the excessive display of advertising. One of the adwares had more than 1 million downloads in the Google store and, on Monday (20), it was the 29th most downloaded app in Brazil. The second adware, on the other hand, had more than 500 thousand downloads and occupied 99th position in the ranking, according to a survey by the mobile market consultancy App Annie.
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Searched by dnetc on Monday (20), Google reported that «Google Play has strict policies to help ensure a safe and secure platform for developers and users. We are reviewing the reported apps and, if a violation is proven, we will remove the same as in our store «. On Wednesday (22), the suspicious applications were no longer available in the Android store. Caixa, maker of the official Bolsa Família app, stated that «it advises its customers to only use banking services app developed by CAIXA, mainly avoiding viruses or vulnerabilities that can contaminate their device in order to steal personal information and / or bank accounts «(see full note at the end of the story).
Play Store removed two suspicious apps – Photo: Rodrigo Fernandes / dnetc
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According to experts at dfndr lab, a laboratory specializing in digital security at PSafe, both detected adware had excessive advertising, with the aim that the manufacturer would profit from viewing the ads. One of the suspicious applications, in particular, had the potential to become a major threat from a malicious update, so it was also classified as a riskware.
The adware in question contained, in the code, invasive and suspicious functions that could be used for malicious attacks, such as monitoring SMS messages, registering applications installed on the smartphone, and accessing the phonebook and email list of phonebook contacts. Such threats do not necessarily exhibit malicious behavior, but they can open security holes in the victim’s cell phone, as well as display advertisements frequently.
Caixa developed the official Bolsa Família app – Photo: Rubens Achilles / dnetc
With generic names like «Benefício Família 2020» and green and yellow icons, the adware drew attention by promising to consult the Bolsa Família database. The government provides, through the Transparency Portal, the data API for querying services such as Bolsa Família, Public Expenditure, Federal Executive Contracts and other sectors.
The API makes it easy to access government information, as it provides the basis for citizens to develop their own structure to make data available in various forms of visualization. The adware removed from the Play Store, and other unofficial applications that make it possible to consult the Bolsa Família, inform in the description of the application that the program has no connection with the Federal Government and is powered by the data API of the Transparency Portal.
Official apps stand side by side with strangers on the Play Store – Photo: Playback / dnetc
However, it is risky to download an application of dubious origin – many of the developers are unknown and do not have other apps in the Google store. Caixa Econômica Federal provides the official Bolsa Família application to consult the benefit, and recommends that customers avoid suspicious apps due to the threat of viruses and malware.
However, finding the official application can be more laborious than expected, as the Google Play Store search returns several informal apps alongside the legitimate ones. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the name of the developer (written in small letters below the title of the software) to confirm whether the manufacturer is the Federal Government or Caixa.
According to some instructions from the dfndr lab to protect yourself from probable data theft and intrusions on your cell phone, the ideal is not to provide personal information to suspicious applications. In addition, it is recommended to check information only on official portals and from recognized institutions. It is also important to always have a reliable antivirus installed on your phone to prevent possible malicious attacks.
How to choose a good antivirus
«CAIXA advises its customers to only use the banking services app developed by CAIXA, mainly avoiding viruses or vulnerabilities that can contaminate their device in order to steal personal and / or banking information.
The bank provides security guidelines on its Internet portal http://www.caixa.gov.br/seguranca/Paginas/default.aspx to alert its customers to scams, whether by spam emails, fake websites, in person or by phone.
In case of doubt, customers have at their disposal the CAIXA customer service channels, such as SAC 0800 726 0101, Ombudsman 0800 725 7474 and other options at the link www.caixa.gov.br/atendimento.
The apps developed by CAIXA can be seen on the following links:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=br.com.gabba.
Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/box/id490813624»