Fake Android update appeared in Google’s official app store.

It is understood that more than a million people downloaded a fake version of WhatsApp onto their Android devices through the official Google App center, before Google realized and removed the fake app from the Play store.

It’s easy to see why so many people were duped into downloading the fake app. The fake ‘Update WhatsApp Messenger App’ showed up in Google’s official Android store, and was was even labeled as having been made by WhatsApp Inc, the now Facebook-owned maker of the genuine messaging app.

The fake WhatsApp looked almost exactly the same as the real WhatsApp, having the same shades of green and speech-bubble imagery of the real app. While the subtle differences are perhaps obvious in hindsight, they were still close enough to fool over 1 million users over the period of time the fake app was available for download.

According to Hacker News, the people behind the fake app managed to pull off this trick by adding an invisible Unicode character space to the end of the name, which in computer code reads “WhatsApp+Inc%C2%A0”.

Is your WhatsApp legit?

First time for everything?

Yes, there is. Unfortunately for Google, it’s turned out to be quite a common problem, and they regularly have to clean up fake and malicious apps from the Play Store. In 2015, the firm had to step in and block one program that disguised itself as a battery monitor and sent premium-rate text messages from people’s phones.

Dangerous stuff then

Yes, but these days however, the development of fake apps have lost some of their bite. Developers have purposefully limited much of their apps malicious functionality, so that they can bypass Google’s automated malware scanning programs. The majority of fake apps therefore currently in use concentrate more on spamming adverts or asking for one time donations via PayPal to unlock certain features. Fake apps are also notorious for including dozens if not hundreds of fake reviews to trick Play Store users.

Both Google and WhatsApp reassured users that anyone downloading an update to the real messaging platform would not have been affected by the fake app and they can continue using the genuine application as normal.

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