Apparently lots of fake shopping apps have started to appear on the App Store, so this is a warning to iPhone users: be careful and scrutinize an app before you download and install it. These apps are intended to trick consumers into believing that they are the officially-branded apps of businesses. Here’s everything you need to know.

fake shopping apps

Fake Shopping apps using official logo’s

The New York Times highlighted how the unscrupulous developers of these apps will stop at nothing for your business. Apparently, they are submitting apps to Apple’s App Store using extremely similar names to well-known brands and their logos. This is an apparent attempt to confuse users into trusting the apps enough to give up financial details.

In fact, the apps seem to have been designed well enough to pass as the actual brand at first glance. Apps of this nature have been seen masquerading as Puma, Foot Locker, Dollar Tree, Christian Dior and more.

How dangerous could they be?

According to Chris Mason, chief executive of Pittsburgh-based Branding Brand, this is the first time his company had seen so many counterfeit iPhone apps emerge in such a short period. Some of them appeared to be relatively harmless — mainly junk applications that displayed pop-up ads.

There has been no suggestion that these apps are carriers of malware intentionally created with malicious code. However, they are fake shopping apps trying to pass off as something else, which is a clear case of trademark infringement and something that Apple should work to eradicate from the App Store as quickly as possible.

Apple’s security

Using one of these fake shopping apps places a user at a high risk of being the victim of fraud, and some users are actively prompted to sign up for the apps’ services using their Facebook details, which expose personal data. So why have they slipped through the net, and what is Apple doing about it?

“Scrutiny” is a word that usually goes hand-in-hand with Apple’s approach to the apps that appear on the App Store. However, that scrutiny seems to have been abandoned at the moment, and that’s why these fake shopping apps are available.

Normally Apple is good at scanning through the code of uploaded apps looking for malicious code. But on the other hand, it has often failed to prevent cases of trademark infringement from getting past it. This is because it focuses its attention on malware and not scanning for fake apps.

Last Thursday, Apple reacted to The New York Times’ report by removing hundreds of fake apps from its App Store. However, there are many more still accessible to iPhone users.

“We strive to offer customers the best experience possible, and we take their security very seriously,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. “We’ve set up ways for customers and developers to flag fraudulent or suspicious apps, which we promptly investigate to ensure the App Store is safe and secure. We’ve removed these offending apps and will continue to be vigilant about looking for apps that might put our users at risk.”

Future security

In September, Apple announced that it was going to start a bold campaign to check every app available. Overall, that’s more than 2 million applications to search through. Fakes, malware, and anything that doesn’t meet its guidelines or no longer functions correctly will be removed.

While no service can be 100% secure, the nature of applications and the devices they’re created for demand high standards. So because Apple markets this as a reason to use its devices over Android‘s more open nature, it should be aware that people are watching and don’t forget easily.

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