Once again the popular messaging platform WhatsApp gets spoofed by a bogus app on Google’s Play Store trying to imitate it. The fraudulent app named “Update WhatsApp Messenger” poses as an update for the WhatsApp messaging app to fool users into downloading it. So far the “Update WhatsApp Messenger” has been downloaded over 1 million times worldwide. The purpose of the fraudulent app was to create a malvertisement campaign to produce revenue for its developer.
The apps publication takes many steps in order to trick people into believing its legitimacy. First, the app mimick WhatsApp’s logo and format. It even has the same developer name as the original WhatsApp except for a Unicode whitespace. The app page also contains more than 6 thousand fake reviews giving the application a rating of 4.0 and up. The purpose of the app is to create revenue through advertisement. So far, there are no signs that the fake app contains any malware. No reason to leave it installed though, its just rewarding bad behavior.
This is not the first time an app has attempted to mimic other legitimate apps in the Play Store. Facebook Messenger was also subjected to a similar campaign. In WhatsApp’s case, this would be the second time another application imitated its design in order to accrue downloads. A routine must be put in place in order to validate top ranking apps in Google’s Play Store in order to ensure their integrity. The system should verify the reviews and check whether a third party is imitating another brand.