One such instance is a new scam that tries to drain your phone battery and use your precious data for fraud. The fraud is specifically targeting Android users, but how can we defend against this scam – and future ones?
Oracle Corp identified the scam, DrainerBot, which is infiltrating users phones through infected apps. These apps – which have now been removed from the Google Play store - include Perfect365, Draw, Clash of Clans, Touch ‘n’ Beat and VertexClub. When playing on a musical themed game or even playing around with a music app like Stagelight 4, it can be difficult to discover there is even a scam. These apps have cumulatively been downloaded around 10 million times, which shows the prevalence of the scam.
The scam works by running fraudulent invisible video ads on the infected users’ smartphones. The app communicates that the videos have been played on trustworthy sites, and are therefore to be trusted by the phone. But, this too has been fraudulently manufactured. The ads don’t appear on the screen and can use up to 10GB of data per month, with some of the scam’s victims only noticing as their battery drains. The scam uses the data – which can sometimes be costly – to run the ads without the phone user usually ever finding out. Indeed, it can even be difficult to discover you have been scammed.
But how can we protect against something we don’t even know exists? The answer lies in our own data – that is the information we are able to share with one another. The ability to experience something and share that experience with hundreds of others is one of the greatest uses of the internet and can be the one that protects us the best against increasingly deceptive scams.
Review sites enable us to share information we have found and enable us to defend against it – and they can prove to be very useful in defending against cybercrime. We have eBay and Amazon reviews that help buyers stay away from difficult sellers. Uber’s reviews that work both for the driver and passenger enable a détente and a strong trust built. There are even reviews for the best slot games on sites like Vegas Slots, which enable players to find the one they would most enjoy playing but also hear about the trustworthiness of the developer and game provider. A review system that helps flag up possible issues with apps and aspects of technology could help identify patterns, which are how most scams are stopped in their tracks.
Scams aren’t going to magically go away and no matter how protected we feel, there will still be some that are able to slip through the gaps. However, with due diligence and through remaining vigilant, we will be able to band together and create the last line of defense against scams and fraud using our phones.