“The app itself has minimal permissions (internet access) but it’s basically an ad-loaded wrapper which has some code to download a second apk, also called ‘whatsapp.apk.’ The app also tries to hide itself by not having a title and having a blank icon.”
The malicious app has no title and is associated with a transparent icon.
The fake app appeared to be developed by legit WhatsApp Inc, but a close look at the developer’s name revealed that authors added a hidden space at end of the name. The developer used a trick, it added two bytes, 0xC2 0xA0, at the end forming an invisible space.
It is incredible, crooks that developed this app were able to bypass the Google security controls infecting more than a million devices.
The fake WhatsApp app was removed from the official Play Store and its author is going to be banned.
Experts believe that the automated checks implemented by Google for the apps to deploy in the Play Store are still ineffective, despite the efforts of Big G.
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.