Security firm Kaspersky has identified a fake application that is designed to trick users into thinking it is a certified version of FaceApp but goes on to infect victims’ devices with an adware module called MobiDash.
Once the application is downloaded from unofficial sources and installed, it simulates a failure and is subsequently removed. After that, a malicious module in the application rests discreetly on the user’s device, displaying adverts.
According to Kaspersky data, around 500 unique users have encountered the problem in the last two days, with the first detections appearing on July 7. There were almost 800 different module modifications identified.
“The people behind MobiDash often hide their adware module under the guise of popular applications and services. This means that the activities of the fake version of FaceApp could intensify, especially if we are talking about hundreds of targets in just a few days. We urge users not to download applications from unofficial sources and to install security solutions on their devices to avoid any damage,” noted Igor Golovin, security researcher at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky products detected and blocked the threat as “not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.AndroidOS.Mobidash.”
“Yet another viral app taking several social media channels by storm is quite a recurring phenomenon. In this age where users jump onto a bandwagon because it’s fun or trendy, FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out can overshadow basic security habits – like being vigilant on granting app permissions. Our previous study even uncovered that the majority (63%) of consumers do not read license agreements and 43% just tick all privacy permissions when they are installing new apps. While this survey was done three years ago, we believe its findings on our digital habits remain relevant and true,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.
“Basically, there is no harm in joining online challenges or installing new apps. The danger lies when users just grant these apps limitless permissions into their contacts, photos, private messages, and more. Doing so allows the app makers possible, and even legal, access to what should remain confidential data. When this sensitive data is hacked or misused, a viral app can turn a source into a loophole which hackers can exploit to spread malicious viruses,” Yeo added.