How to avoid fake apps and stay private online

Jan. 27, 2017
NordVPN explains how to spot fake apps and how to keep data safe and private

January 26, 2017. When one searches for an app on Apple or Google’s Play store, there will be a list of apps that resemble the original one but are actually fake copies. Even if Apple – as well as Google - have a tough scrutiny of apps, new malicious apps appear every day.

This month, the biggest fake app scandal on Google Play store happened with the Indian BHIM app, launched to enable citizens to make digital payments. Numerous duplicates soon followed, some of them asking for permissions to review users’ personal information.

If an app is not free, or if it’s a shopping app that requires credit card info, or happens to be any other payment-related app, it is potentially very hazardous for the person who’s downloading a look-alike application.

It has been asserted that while some apps simply have the aim to share ads, there are also many that seek to steal the user’s identity and credit card information. These apps can use malware to steal personal information or can even tinker with the phone and lock it up until the user pays a ransom.

Simple tips about recognizing the fake apps:

1. Incorrect use of language. Since most fake apps are made in haste, often where English is not a native tongue, they might use broken English grammar. Users should pay attention to spelling and grammar in any app descriptions if they have any doubts about its originality.

2. Lack of reviews. Fake apps typically won’t have any user reviews – so that’s a definite sign an app could be a fake.

3. It’s especially important to pay attention to retail apps. Many fake retail apps pop up before major holidays – such as Zappos, Nordstrom, Christian Dior and many others. Retail apps that ask users for their credit card info should be especially monitored.

4. Correct developer’s name. Users need to check for the name of the developer in the corresponding category and avoid downloading apps that have a wrong or misspelled developers’ name.

5. Website domains in the title. Some apps will feature the website in their title – that might also be a red flag.

6. Variety of Apps. If an app is fake, the developer is likely making all sorts of apps that can cover anything from gardening to games to retail shopping.

7. Leading to the website. If it’s a paid app or if it conducts any transactions and if it does not lead to a company website, something is amiss.

8. Deals. If the app promotes a deal that is too good to be true, be suspicious. 

Overall, staying vigilant when downloading apps is just one example of avoiding threats to your personal data. Internet users can also be proactive in ensuring they are taking additional steps to stay private and secure online.

The list of some of the most important privacy and security apps of 2017:

Signal is an encrypted messaging and voice calling app that provides end-to-end encryption to secure all communications. The app can also verify the identity of people one is messaging with and the integrity of the channel they are using. When texting with non-Signal users, one has an option to invite them to an encrypted conversation via Signal.

NordVPN (Virtual Private Network provider) is a must-have encryption app. A VPN encrypts the data shared across the Internet and is the best security mechanism to ensure the Internet traffic remains confidential. NordVPN has a reputation of focusing on security and having a zero logs policy, is fast and easy to use. The developers at NordVPN have launched a powerful new VPN app for Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices that is also intuitive and focused on user experience. NordVPN app re-routes and encrypts all Internet traffic making the connection private and secured. For added security, NordVPN offers DoubleVPN servers.

my Secure email is an email app for managing various email accounts from various providers, which puts security first.  It offers encryption of sent emails, lock screen, password-protected digital signature and more. In addition, there are a few other good examples of secure email providers, including Tutanota, or the Gmail-like ProtonMail that offer an automatic end-to-end encryption, and no personal information is required to create a secure email account.

DuckDuckGo is for those who want more private browsing experience. It’s a search engine that provides information from hundreds of sources and keeps the search private.

Besides security and privacy apps, everyone should be extra vigilant when sharing information on their devices, encrypt when using public Wi-Fi, update antivirus software, fire-up the firewall and always use strong passwords.


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider that is more security oriented than most VPN services. It offers double VPN encryption, anti-DDoS & Tor Over VPN services. It has just launched a new NordVPN Mac, Android and iOS Apps that provide a unique algorithm, allowing to automatically connect to the fastest server. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 700 servers worldwide and is P2P friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is zero log policy.