Fake apps are a fairly common phenomenon on the Play Store, but it’s not often that the perpetrators behind them manage to use the same name as the official developer. This is the situation WhatsApp found itself in recently when someone managed to fool Google into letting them use the same “WhatsApp Inc” name for their fake version of the application.
The worst part of it is, the subterfuge managed to fool a whopping 1 million people into downloading the app. Dubbed “Update WhatsApp” at first, the person behind it changed the name to “Dual Whatsweb Update” and switched the icon so it didn’t resemble the official one when things came to light.
The malicious app appears to have been removed from the Play Store right now, but it’s worrying to see how long it look for the duplicity to be discovered. A Redditor was amongst the first to notice the deceit. People later noted that the forces behind it had placed a Unicode whitespace at the end of the “WhatsApp Inc” name to fool Google and Android users alike.
A million plus downloads makes this particular fake app one of the most successful to have ever graced the Play Store. Luckily, it seems “Update WhatsApp” was simply a vehicle to serve up ads and doesn’t appear to have conducted any malicious activity. Still, hackers could easily utilize the same techniques to actually cause harm.
Till Google steps things up, users will just have to be extra vigilant about the apps they download even if the developer name looks legit.