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Fake apps on Google Play scamming users out of cryptocurrency
Thu, 23rd May 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Fake cryptocurrency apps on Google Play have been discovered to be phishing and scamming users out of cryptocurrency, according to a new report from ESET.

ESET researchers have just concluded their analysis of fake cryptocurrency wallets that emerged on Google Play at the time of bitcoin's renewed spike in value.

The company says bitcoin has been growing, with its price climbing to its highest point since September 2018, and cybercriminals were quick to notice this development and started upping their efforts in targeting cryptocurrency users with various scams and malicious apps.

According to the report, one fake app is impersonating the popular hardware cryptocurrency wallet Trezor. The illegitimate app was connected to a fake cryptocurrency wallet app named “Coin Wallet – Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Tether,” which is capable of scamming unsuspecting users out of money.

“We haven't previously seen malware misusing Trezor's branding and were curious about the capabilities of such a fake app,” says Lukáš Štefanko, the ESET researcher who conducted the research, concerning his interest into this specific fake app.

“After all, Trezor offers hardware wallets that require physical manipulation and authentication via PIN, or knowledge of the so-called recovery seed, to access the stored cryptocurrency,” he explains.

Analysing the fake app, ESET found that it can't to do any harm to Trezor users' crypto-savings given Trezor's multiple security layers; however, it is connected to a fake cryptocurrency wallet app “Coin Wallet,” which is capable of scamming unsuspecting users out of money.

“Both these apps were created based on an app template sold online,” adds Štefanko.
The app masquerading as a mobile wallet for Trezor was uploaded to Google Play on May 1, 2019, under the developer name “Trezor Inc.”

“Overall, the app's page on Google Play appeared trustworthy at first glance. At the time of our analysis, the fake app even came up as the second most popular result when searching for “Trezor” on Google Play, right behind Trezor's official app. However, the fake app is used to phish for login credentials,” Štefanko explains.

“The app claims it lets its users create wallets for various cryptocurrencies. However, its actual purpose is to trick users into transferring cryptocurrency into the attackers' wallets – a classic case of what we've named wallet address scams in our previous research into cryptocurrency-targeting malware.

Štefanko offers a few tips around how to stay safe with cryptocurrencies online:
•  Only trust cryptocurrency-related and other finance apps if they are linked from the official website of the service.
•  Only enter your sensitive information into online forms if you are certain of their security and legitimacy.
•   Keep your device updated.
•   Use a reputable mobile security solution to block and remove threats.
Štefanko says ESET reported the fake Trezor app to Google's security teams and reached out to Trezor. Trezor confirmed that the fake app did not pose a direct threat to their users.

“However, they did express concern that the email addresses collected via fake apps such as this one could later be misused in phishing campaigns.