Virus Shield, by developer Deviant Solutions, was a handsome, apparently easy-to-use security app for Android devices. For $4, the app promised hassle-free, ad-free security for Android users, without impacting battery life or performance. And, mostly, Virus Shield delivered - no ads, no fuss.
The only minor fly in the ointment? Virus Shield did exactly nothing to protect your Android device against viruses and was as bogus as a three-dollar bill from the outset.
The fraudulent nature of the app was outted Sunday by the blog Android Police, and has subsequently been removed from the Play Store.
What’s noteworthy is how successful Virus Shield apparently was – the app made it into several “top paid” lists on the Play Store, and was apparently purchased more than 10,000 times since its release on March 28, making it at least a $40,000 payday for the mysterious Deviant Solutions. A raft of allegedly fake reviews and high ratings helped propel Virus Shield to the top of the Play Store.
Android is still far and away the most popular target for mobile malware, according to F-Secure. Fully 97% of new mobile malware threats in 2013 were directed against Android. Generally, fake apps take the form of copycat *.apk files downloaded from the Internet, instead of the Play Store – these purport to be freeware versions of popular paid apps.
But, as Virus Shield indicates, criminals are getting more creative in the way they go after Android users. Last month saw reports of a cryptocurrency mining app called Coinkrypt making its way around certain corners of the Internet, hijacking hardware and using it to mine Dogecoin, Litecoin and Casinocoin.
Email Jon Gold at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.