Like other popular smart phones, the Windows Phone has a store where you go to get apps for it. There have been reports of fake apps turning up on the site. These apps can cause you considerable trouble if you download them and install them on your phone. These smart phone stores do a very good job of vetting apps, but there is always the possibility of something slipping by. Therefore, it is important you understand how to spot a fake or suspicious app in the Windows Phone Store.
To begin with, we should make clear that app store hosts like Microsoft do have strict security measures in place that strive to keep malicious software off of stores and therefore users’ devices. That being said, there is always a chance that an industrious hacker can subvert these security controls and get their app onto the online stores. To counter this, here’s four tips on how you can spot fake or malicious apps.
- Look at the name – If you are looking at an app on the Windows Phone Store, always look at the name of the app. Some malicious software that has made its way onto the Store has had a spelling mistake in the name. If in doubt, do a quick search on the Internet for the app and the correct spelling. Should nothing turn up, it may be a good idea to avoid it.
- Look at the publisher information – All apps for Windows Phones require that the developer/publisher includes information about the app and themselves. If you are looking to download what seems like a popular app, take a look at the listed producer or developer, and then search on the Internet for their site. If the developer of the app appears to be different, or there are differences in the spelling, it is best to avoid installing it.
- Look at social media stats – On the Windows Phone Store, below the install information, are counters for social media likes and shares. If the app information states it is a popular app and yet there are no social shares, then this may indicate it is actually fake. You should therefore err on the side of caution.
- Look at comments – Lastly, look at the comments/reviews of the app. The Windows Phone Store uses stars to provide a quick overview of how much people like each app, but if you read comments you can quickly get an idea of exactly what people say about specific apps. If you see words like Fake, Doesn’t work, etc. then it is a good idea to skip installing it.
While it can help to be able to identify apps, you should also know how to report apps that you believe are malicious or fake. You can do so by:
- Opening the app’s page on the Windows Phone Store.
- Scrolling down and clicking on Report concern to Microsoft.
- Selecting from a list of complaints. Note: Pick the one that is most appropriate to the issue, for example if it is a fake app then select Misleading app.
- Pressing Submit.
The plus side of the Windows Store is that Microsoft does usually act quickly to remove identified apps, so the actual chances of you downloading one are fairly low.