Fake Instagram app running riot on Android Market

Be wary of an app going by the name of Instagram and published on the Android Market by a developer calling itself App for Android. It is NOT the long-awaited arrival of Instagram on Android, it’s a fake. The app forces users to give it a 5/5 rating in order to access its features, then fills your phone up with malware.

The five-star ranking thing is a clever tactic, as one of the visual clues we use to identify if an app is safe and genuine is a high Android Market user feedback score. Thanks to this fake feedback boost, the Instagram fake has racked up over 1,500 highly positive reader reviews in less than 24 hours.

fake-instagram

This is a very embarrassing and high-profile attack, especially as Google only just announced that its Bouncer auto-scanner would be able to put a stop to such shameful practices. The fake app’s here [hooray, it’s now been deleted] if you’d like to have a look – just don’t install it.

Thanks to reader Mr Perkins for the tip.

32 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. benjymous

     /  February 4, 2012

    The same dev has a fake scam version of Temple Run up too, with the same force rating, it seems

    Reply
  2. And why on earth we dont have an easy way to report this easily to google?… Like the Spam button on gmail :D

    Reply
    • Saif

       /  February 4, 2012

      Was just going to say that, there is no flag button…!!

      Reply
    • benjymous

       /  February 4, 2012

      There’s nothing on the web market, but there’s a “flag as inappropriate” option in the Market App itself

      Reply
    • They need a better way of keeping Malware off the Android Market as I don’t think that their current methods are working that well at the moment.

      Reply
      • Smart Phone, they actually do have a quite secure Market. I have done extensive research on Android’s security.

        Reply
  3. Saif

     /  February 4, 2012

    If i may ask when you guys say “fills your phone up with malware” what kind of malware we are talking about? i didnt get infected before so i’m curiose how a malware work on a phone…

    Reply
  4. Simon

     /  February 4, 2012

    This sort of thing worries me. Already I’m seeing several people questioning the reports that the app is fake by saying things like ‘but it has so many 5 star reviews. How can it be fake?’.

    And this is the problem. Fake apps that force users to give the app 5 stars will be much much harder to notice and remove from the Market. It’s a worrying trend.

    Reply
    • benjymous

       /  February 4, 2012

      Google has plenty of systems for detecting trends and patterns, so automatically spotting an app where 80+% of the ratings are 5*s should be easy enough. Even *good* apps get plenty of low ratings from people who just don’t understand the app.

      Likewise, they’ll know the normal average of downloads to ratings and how long, on average, a user takes from downloading an app to rating it, so an app that’s forcing people to rate it on first start will be far outside the normal statistics.

      e.g the facebook app has 2.4mil ratings for at least 100mil downloads [1 rating for every 42 downloads]
      Angry birds – 1mil ratings, 50mil downloads [1 rating for every 50 downloads]
      Skype – 337k ratings, 10mil downloads [1 rating for every 30 downloads]

      So, at the very least this app should have 50k downloads to have that many ratings – I’ll bet it’s closer to 1500 downloads.

      Reply
  5. At the bottom of the app’s market page there is an option to report the app as offensive. I did that and just chose “other” as the reason and told them it was a fake.

    Reply
    • I dont see that :(, the best I could do, was to send the Install to a OLD no longer active phone that I had, and write a bad review… Just to help out a little bit

      Reply
  6. jcase

     /  February 4, 2012

    Its not malware, its a grab by a blogger for more web traffic.

    Its a fake app, yes, but it’s goal is to get the user to generate ad revenue. It doesn’t fill your device with malware.

    Bloggers need to be more cafeful

    Reply
    • Mmmm its seems that you are Ok with the app… interesting…

      Reply
      • Peter

         /  February 4, 2012

        Malware has a definition and this app probably doesn’t meet it. Throwing the word around for every app you disapprove of isn’t helpful.

        Reply
      • jcase

         /  February 4, 2012

        no I am not ok with it, however i am even less ok with this type of “journalism”. This is a grab attempt at hits, like symantec was caught doing last week, however they did a better job.

        The author didn’t bother researching the application, nor the definition of malware.

        The claim it “fills your phone up with malware” is especially comical, because it can not do that at all.

        Reply
    • Simon

       /  February 4, 2012

      It triggers notification bar spam and installs additional apps. How is this not malware?

      Reply
      • jcase

         /  February 4, 2012

        because its not malware by definition, its just an app packed with ad networks.

        Reply
        • Simon

           /  February 4, 2012

          You know what.. gahh you’re right! I’ve spent best part of the day getting mixed up with adware and malware.

          Whatever the app does it’s pretty shitty and I’m glad it has been removed.

          Reply
      • jcase

         /  February 4, 2012

        Also, it doesn’t have the ability to install additional apps, nor read your contacts, nor send SMS. Worst it seems to be able to do is add shortcuts to SOME launchers, and potentially make bookmarks.

        Hardly malware.

        Reply
      • David

         /  February 4, 2012

        Sounds more like ad-ware in that case.

        Reply
  7. hasan

     /  February 4, 2012

    no longer on android market.

    Reply
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