According to an article posted by security researcher Aleksejs Kuprins, a fake app, which goes by the name ‘Updates for Samsung’ has been installed by over 10 million Android users. The app promises Android firmware updates for Samsung device users but after installing it, it redirects them to an ad-farm that charges money for downloading the update. Apathy is, even after the researcher sent a message to Google asking them to consider the deletion of the particular app from Google Play store but no action has been taken until now.
According to a CSIS’s report the app claims to let users unlock their SIM for any operator by paying $19.99. Moreover, the app also offers an annual subscription to download Samsung firmware for $34.99. However, it handles the transactions for both the services through an informal source and not via Google Play subscription. The app allows you to make the payment by entering your credit card details and sends it to an API endpoint.
Interestingly, the app charges you for a service (firmware updates) which is provided free of cost by Samsung. As claimed by Aleksejs Kuprins, ‘There is a shady peculiarity about these firmware downloads.’ He further explains that the app allows the registered users to download the firmware for free but the download rate is limited to 56KBps which means that with such low speed it will eventually lead to a timeout making the users pay for a subscription out of frustration. He also added that during their test, they observed that the downloads were not finishing even after using a reliable network.
The fact that the app is not a classic malware could be one of the apparent reasons why Google hasn’t delisted the app from Google Play yet. But this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be deleted since it is fraudulent.
The researcher also said that it would be wrong to judge people for mistakenly going to the unofficial application store for firmware updates. Vendors usually bundle their Android OS builds with an intimidating number of software updates and it can get confusing for the users.
The update for Samsung firmware is still available for download on the Play Store. It is highly recommended that users must download firmware updates from the official source only. Samsung device users can download software updates by going to the settings menu without charging any money.